Daimler unveils self-driving 18-wheel truck

07 May 2015


Daimler has unveiled a massive futuristic, driverless truck.

The company's Freightliner of the future made its debut at a news conference complete with videos and images projected onto the massive wall of the Hoover Dam on the Nevada Arizona border.

According to company spokesman Florian Martens, a driver was at the wheel for safety as the truck executed impressively tight turns.

Driverless vehicles can be tested on public roads in Nevada only with a driver at the wheel ready to take over if needed.

However, it might be years before a fully self-driving truck could be used on roadways, though driverless cars had also been tested in the state. 

With the development, Daimler has become the first company to get a license for road use in the state, for an autonomous truck.

Based on the series-produced US Freightliner Cascadia model, the truck comes with the addition of the Highway Pilot technology.

The self-driving truck system comprises a front radar and a stereo camera in addition to tried and tested assistance systems such as the Adaptive Cruise Control, as seen in the standard Freightliner Cascadia models and the Mercedes-Benz Actros.

For licensing on public roads in Nevada, the technology was further developed with extensive testing the interaction of components. In the truck´s so-called Marathon Run, it covered more than 10,000 miles on a test circuit in Papenburg, Germany.

When the autonomous truck hits the highway, the driver can activate the Highway Pilot system to receive a visual prompt in the instrument cluster to activate the "Highway Pilot."

The vehicle enters the autonomous mode and adapts to the speed of traffic and when the driver receives a confirmation message in the instrument cluster, "Highway Pilot active," he can safely relax, text or read the newspaper.

Daimler studied the effect of autonomous driving on truckers and the results showed that the driver was more attentive and consequently able to perform better if the use of the Highway Pilot system allowed him to also do other jobs instead of having to perform monotonous driving-related tasks.

With the help of the objective brainwave measurement (EEG), it was possible to prove that drowsiness down 25 per cent when the truck operated in autonomous mode and the test subject performed interesting secondary tasks.

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