If you are driving through Nevada you may stumble upon a very futuristic looking truck! The coolest thing about these trucks are not the chrome and lights though, look closer and you might see a “driver” who is not driving at all! Do not fear! You have just witnessed the first round of testing for the Freightliner Inspiration Driverless Truck.
Earlier this month, Nevada gave to okay to Daimler to test out its driverless trucks on its highways. Though the name for this model is called “Freightliner Inspiration Driverless Truck” the trucks will not truly be driverless. A trucker must remain in the driver’s seat for the entire ride, ready to take control if the driving conditions are not optimal for the driving technology, such as in hazardous weather conditions or in city traffic. Daimler urges us to think of the new freightliners as an autopilot for long distance truck drivers, instead of a truly people free driving system.
For drivers afraid of loosing their jobs to the new technology, breathe easy. For now at least, the new innovative software still cannot replace the know-how of a real experienced trucker.
The truck’s highway piloting technology will uses a combination of GPS, radar, camera to keep at a safe distance from other cars and stay in the center of its lane.
The driverless truck is more than innovation for the same of innovation. There are some very good reasons why companies are going to want to invest in these smart trucks in the future.
Long distance truckers are good at keeping their focus on the road, but a single person can only focus on something as repetitive as a road for so long. Eventually, a trucker will start daydreaming, getting hungry, getting antsy and wanting to do something– anything –besides staring at the same dusty road. With the Freight-liner Driver-less truck, drivers have the ability to take a break, while still logging miles. That means when the drivers does need to take control it is after a nice break and when the driver is ready to focus 100% again.
One of the coolest features of the Freight-liner is called Platooning Technology. If you have time, watch the video of platooning in action. It is very cool! What platooning does, is sync up several Inspiration trucks to follow each other at a specified distance which enhances fuel economy up to 8%. Not only do the freight-liners save on gas by driving at a perfect constant speed with only slight changes depending on the speed of the car in front of it, but the more trucks in a platoon, the more fuel economy is achieved because of the perfect airflow that human drivers would never be able to achieve.
When truckers can take breaks regularly while still logging miles, it’s not hard to see the productivity can only go up. More miles, less emissions and fewer operator errors, mean a whole lot more productivity for companies that choose to invest in Freightliners Super Trucks.
There are good reasons why a company might want to invest in and Inspiration Driverless Truck, but the roads still won’t be catering to driverless freightliners for at least a decade, Daimler engineers estimate. As with any driver-less technology, it takes a long time for the public and regulators to get comfortable with the idea.
Think of it: a freight liner pulling up next to you, going 75MPH and the drivers is not watching the road, but a TV show! The idea seems scary, but the technology is promising and in theory, much safer. Theory is one thing, but the freightliners still need to be tested in practice to demonstrate their real world safety. Lets face it: it’s a scary idea until it has been proven to be reliable and safe.
The tests in Nevada are the first step to finding and working out any the kinks. Daimler does not think the public or regulators will be ready for the technology in full for another ten years (2025). This technology is not simply restricted to freightliners of course, but having freights drive themselves on public highways is the first step to a driverless roadway.
With any luck, one day being able to say “Back in my day, we drove our own cars, and we liked it!”
Interested in the details of the new Freightliner? Check out the YouTube videos below.