Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yikes! Self-Driving 18-Wheelers Approved To Hit The Road

Daimler Autonomous Future Truck

Daimler's autonomous 'Future Truck' will soon be driving itself  in  real traffic in Germany. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure in Stuttgart, Germany has given the high-tech 18-wheel behemoths the green light to go truckin on  the motorways of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The approval by The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure facilitates  Daimler's goal  to bring autonomous driving technology to the freight and logistics business within the next ten years. The company showcased its Future Truck 2025 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show in 2014.

The Future Truck uses a combination of assistance systems to drive itself. Sensors, cameras, and steering intervention keep the truck from wandering out of its lane. The system also includes a three-dimensional digital map, so that the truck is informed of the route and terrain ahead at all times. The Future Truck can also communicate with other connected vehicles to exchange information.

On the truck's maiden voyage, a  driver will be in the cab and can take control of the vehicle at any time if necessary. According to Daimler's own studies, driver drowsiness decreases by about 25 percent when the truck is in autonomous mode, and the autonomous features mean the driver can do other things, such as plan future routes and stops on a tablet.

This is the first time self-driving trucks have been approved to mix with everyday traffic in Germany, but it's not the first time they've been on the road. The trucks were first tested on a closed section of the A14 motorway in Magdeburg, Germany in July 2014.

Will the U.S. highways and byways see self-driving rigs?

You bet they will.

The autonomous trucks take to open road in Nevada in May, giving Daimler the distinction of being the first auto manufacturer  in the world to have a road license for an autonomous heavy-duty truck. Two Freightliner 'Inspiration Trucks', similar to the Future Truck but configured for US driving, have been approved to drive on Nevada's public roads.

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