Daimler Trucks have successfully test-demonstrated the world’s first self-driving, series-production truck on public roads for the first time. A latest-generation Mercedes-Benz Actros equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot system performed its first self-driven kilometer out in public traffic in Germany. The market launch is expected in few years from now, so you might see driver-less trucks on roads sooner than you think!!
The German truck major Daimler is known for its constant R & D on autonomous driving and truck safety in recent times. They came up with Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 last year at IAA Frankfurt and this year we saw world premiere of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck with advanced automation levels.
Last week, Daimler premiered their latest autonomous production truck by letting it drive on German motorways, suggesting that the product launch is not far away. The truck is a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros armed with the ‘Highway Pilot system’, which is basically a multi-sensor fusion with combination of assistance and safety systems. It continually observe the entire area in front of the vehicle and takes control of the truck on its own in certain situations.
Unlike the Future Truck 2025 concept in which the driver can get off from the driver seat and pay no attention when the truck drives on its own, in reality we are not quite there yet. The highway pilot is similar to the autopilot mode in an airplane. The driver still needs to observe the traffic and monitor the system and be ready to take back controls in case of an emergency. An adaptive cruise control, automated electric steering wheel, and emergency braking technologies makes the highway pilot ideal for highways.
The driver can confirm the highway pilot at the press of a button. The truck meticulously sticks to its lane and maintains optimum distance to vehicles around it. Should the gap between vehicles become too narrow or if a vehicle cuts in front of it, the truck brakes on its own. Other safety systems such as Mercedes PowerShift 3, Active Brake Assist 3, Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), drowsiness detection, proximity control and a Fleetboard computer are linked with the radar and stereo camera sensors of the highway pilot. An ideal comparison to this kind of integration and automation can be the latest traffic-assist system currently available in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Apart from comfort to driver and enhanced truck safety, the highway pilot is expected to save up to 4 percent of fuel due to controlled acceleration and braking. With further improvements in internet synchronization, combined with navigation system, the highway pilot can also be a better solution to avoid highway congestion and traffic.
Photos and video Credit: Daimler Trucks