Date:7 May 2015
The world’s first autonomous truck licensed to drive on public roads has been launched in the US by Daimler: the Freightliner Inspiration Truck.
Back in July 2014, Daimler Trucks provided the world’s first demonstration of an autonomous truck in action when the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a cordoned-off section of an autobahn. According to Daimler, the Inspiration Truck is the next milestone on the road to series production of its Highway Pilot system.
Highway Pilot is the only system in the world to feature the kind of sensor and camera technology that makes operation of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck possible – from initial acceleration to the speed limit for trucks.
There’s a visible dimension to the Inspiration Truck, too. Its eye-catching exterior lighting features a licence plate, indicators and the radiator grille that light up blue as soon as the vehicle is in autonomous mode. In standard operation, these areas are white and yellow.
This truck is based on the series-produced US Freightliner Cascadia model, but with the addition of the Highway Pilot technology, modified for use on American highways.Despite the common technologies, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck as well as the standard vehicles of both brands are independent vehicle concepts that are adapted to the appropriate market and set of demands.
How the Inspiration Truck works
Once on the highway, the driver can activate or deactivate the Highway Pilot system, which uses a sophisticated stereo camera and radar systems with lane-keeping and collision-prevention functions. Highway Pilot regulates speed, applies the brakes and steers. However, only the driver can carry out overtaking, leaving the highway and changing lanes. The driver is able to override the system at any time.
The Adaptive Cruise Control fitted to the Inspiration Truck uses the same hardware and software as the series production variants of the Mercedes-Benz Actros and Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. Its active power steering system uses the same hardware as the production vehicles, albeit with modified software.