Daimler Trucks this week unveiled what it said is the world's first licensed 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer that can drive itself.
Daimler unveiled the new 18-wheeler yesterday during a ceremony at the Hoover Dam.
The Freightliner Inspiration Truck, a concept truck, underwent extensive testing, Daimler said, before the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles granted it a license to operate on public roads in the state. This past year, the truck was driven more than 10,000 miles during a test in Germany.
Daimler said its new self-driving rig "promises to unlock autonomous vehicle advancements that reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, cut highway congestion, and safeguard the environment."
"Freightliner Trucks has been setting the standard for commercial vehicle design and technology for nearly 75 years," said Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America.
The Inspiration Truck's autonomous features are enabled by forward-facing radar, a stereo camera and Daimler's adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts distances between vehicles to maintain highway speed. Many of the autonomous vehicle systems in the concept truck are already deployed in Daimler Truck's current rig, the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution.
The radar unit is located in the center area of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck front bumper and it scans the road ahead at long and short range. The long-range radar, with a range of 820 fet, scans an 18-degree view to provide both narrow and far views. The short-range radar, with a range of 230 feet, has a scanning range of 130-degrees; it looks wider for vehicles that might cut in front of the truck.
The front radar unit is the basis for the Active Cruise Control and Active Brake Assist available in the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems on the series production Freightliner Cascadia Evolution.
The area ahead of the truck is also is scanned by a stereo camera located behind the Freightliner Inspiration Truck windshield. The range of the camera is 328 feet, and it scans an area of 45-degrees horizontal by 27-degrees vertical. The camera recognizes lane markings and communicates to the Highway Pilot steering gear for autonomous lane guidance.
Daimler's Highway Pilot computer system links the camera and radar technology with systems that provide lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering and an advanced dash display.
"Putting the Freightliner Inspiration Truck on the road is an historic day for Daimler Trucks and the North American trucking industry," said Wolfgang Bernhard, a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Daimler Trucks and Buses. "Our team has done a marvelous job in bringing this breakthrough technology to the road."
This story, "The first self-driving 18-wheeler hits the highways" was originally published by Computerworld.