Daimler Trucks recently took its autonomous heavy-duty truck — the world’s first officially recognized self-driving truck — out for a test spin in Las Vegas.
"With licensing for road use in the USA we have reached an important milestone in autonomous truck driving," said Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, in a statement.
The Freightliner Inspiration Truck took its first journey this week on U.S. Highway 15 in Las Vegas, with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Daimler board member Wolfgang Bernhard riding along.
Aimed at long-haul truck drivers, Daimler's self-driving technology offers a limited version of autonomy. It aims to help decrease operator drowsiness by 25 percent, allowing the driver to focus on other tasks.
The Freightliner Inspiration will take control only on the highway, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles and staying in its lane. It won’t pass slower vehicles on its own. If the truck encounters a situation it can’t handle, like heavy snow that covers lane lines, it will issue an alert that it’s time for the human to take over, via beeps and icons flashing on the dashboard. If the driver doesn’t respond within about five seconds, the truck will slow down slowly,
and eventually stop.
Featuring the intelligent Highway Pilot system for autonomous driving, the Inspiration is one of two trucks licensed for regular operation on public roads.
Based on the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution model, the Inspiration Truck adds front radar and a stereo camera, plus Adaptive Cruise Control+ assistance systems, to allow for independent driving. It covered more than 10,000 miles during a recent test in Germany.
"The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is all about more sustainable transport, for the benefit of the economy, society, and consumers alike," Daum said, adding that Daimler hopes to offer Highway Pilot-equipped vehicles "from the middle of the coming decade."
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