HEAVY-DUTY AUTONOMY: Fancy one of these, no driver, bearing down on you on Van Reenen's Pass? They're live in Nevada. Image: Newspress / Mercedes-Benz
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Daimler Trucks has become the world’s first manufacturer to be granted a road licence for an autonomous heavy-duty truck.
The first journey in the Freightliner Inspiration, made on US Hghway 15 in Las Vegas, was made by Nevada governor Brian Sandoval and Wolfgang Bernhard.
The truck was equipped with "Intelligent Highway Pilot" and is one of two Freightliner Inspiration Trucks licensed in Nevada for regular operation on public roads. Daimler Trucks is the global leading truck manufacturer and, with the Freightliner brand, also the biggest producer in the US.
Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG board member for trucks and buses, said: “Our Freightliner Inspiration is the world’s first autonomous commercial vehicle licensed for road use.
"Our achievement underlines yet again our role as a technological pioneer and demonstrates our consistent dedication to developing the technology for autonomous long-distance driving to series production standard."
Daimler's target is to make heavy transport safer, more efficient and more networked. In July 2014, the truckmaker said, it provided the world’s first demonstration of an autonomous truck when a Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a closed section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg, Germany.
The Nevada drive was the next step.
FREIGHT LOAD EXPECTED TO TRIPLE
Bernhard added: "We are unique in being able to implement technologies across all business units and brands. We have transferred our Highway Pilot system to our US Freightliner brand in a very short time."
The Nevade show was watched by the news media, government representatives and industrialists.
Trucks in the US in 2012 hauled about 70% - 9.4-billion tons - of all freight. That figure is expected to triple by 2050.
The Freightliner Inspiration is based on the standard US Freightliner Cascadia but with a front radar and a stereo camera plus tried-and-tested assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control.