Look Mum No Hands – Autonomous Freightliner Hits the Road in Vegas

Daimler  has become the world´s first truck manufacturer to be granted a road licence for an autonomous or self driving heavy-duty truck.

Nevada has  become the first US state to grant permission for Freightliner’s  ‘Inspiration Trucks’  to regularly operate on public roads initially the licence applies to two trucks. Amid a great deal of fanfare the truck had its first autonomous run on Interstate 15 near Las Vegas.

Inspiration Truck is based on the Cascadia Evolution and is equipped with an intelligent Highway Pilot system for autonomous driving. Daimler says  the technology has  been tested over several thousands of kilometres and is specially configured for use in US highway traffic.

The system comprises a front radar and a stereo camera plus assistance systems such as the Adaptive Cruise Control+, as seen in the Mercedes-Benz Actros in Europe.

“Our Inspiration Truck is the world´s first autonomous commercial vehicle to be licensed for road use,” Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, the new Daimler board member responsible for Trucks and Buses, said in Las Vegas.

“Our achievement here underlines … our role as a technological pioneer and demonstrates our consistent dedication to develop the technology for autonomous long-distance driving to series production standards.”

Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada, pointed out that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles had been reviewing Daimler’s safety, testing and training plans closely before granting permission for the test run.

According to Dr Bernhard, Daimler’s next goal is to test the Highway Pilot technology on public roads in Germany. “Preparations are already under way,” he said in the US.

As part of the so-called Marathon Run, the Inspiration Truck has already covered more than  16,000 kilometres on a test circuit in Germany.

Although there is almost universal endorsement for the system in the industry which was reflected widely at the  recent Improving Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Summit in Melbourne in April  lthere is no sig at this stage that Autonomous Trucks will  be tested  down under any time soon.

Transport & Trucking Today technical editor David Meredith was in Nevada  for the historic even and  will have a full report in our June /July issue.