A new milestone was reached this week toward the future of autonomous vehicles. Freightliner unveiled the world’s first self-driving big-rig on Tuesday, May 5th 2015. The Daimler-built autonomous truck can now legally operate on the highways of Nevada. Gov. Brian Sandoval has officially granted the “Freightliner Inspiration Truck” a license for road use in the state, making it the first of its kind to navigate public roads in the US.
The Inspiration’s “Highway Pilot system” is loaded with cameras, radars, other sensors and computer hardware like most autonomous vehicles. However, it’s not completely self-driving — it still needs a human driver behind the wheel.
According to the big rig’s official website, when the semi-autonomous system takes over, its sensors and computers are “responsible for maintaining legal speed, staying in the selected lane, keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles, and slowing or stopping the vehicle based on traffic and road conditions.” That frees up the driver to do other tasks, like doing the inventory, route planning, and scheduling. Certain conditions require it to transfer control back to the driver, though, particularly when exiting a highway, driving on local roads and docking to drop off deliveries.
The truck had to undergo rigorous testing before it was granted a license and had to drive over 10,000 miles on a circuit in Germany. At the moment, there are two operational Inspiration trucks, and it’s unclear if Daimler’s making more of them.
We want to know what you think about the future of self-driving vehicles. With the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry, will companies look to autonomous vehicles to fill the void? Do truck drivers view autonomous vehicles as a threat or the greatest automotive advancement since power steering?
Let us know in the comments bellow!
For a more in-depth look into the new Freightliner, check out The Verge’s coverage of the announcement: Freightliner shows its Inspiration Truck in Las Vegas