Autonomous Freightliner 18-Wheeler Takes First Drive In Las Vegas

Yesterday Daimler and the governor of Nevada celebrated the first running demonstration of an 18-wheeler semi-tractor trailer driven autonomously on its public roads.

In fact, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Daimler AG board member Wolfgang Bernhard were in the vehicle driven on Las Vegas’ U.S. Highway 15.

Called the Freightliner Inspiration truck, that much kinetic energy with no one at the wheel might inspire fear should something go wrong, but the press announcement is of course chipper and positive.

“With licensing for road use in the USA we have reached an important milestone in autonomous truck driving,” said Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America.

Daimler says the Highway Pilot system enables long-haul drivers to reduce drowsiness by 25 percent and focus on other things besides keeping the 80,000 GVW vehicle in control.

Nor was the publicity exercise at all reckless, as the truck based on the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution has already satisfactorily covered over 10,000 miles in Germany. It does so with an assortment of technologies enabling the robotruck, including Adaptive Cruise Control+ augmented by radar and a stereo camera to look ahead.

“The application of this innovative technology to one of America’s most important industries will have a lasting impact on our state and help shape the New Nevada economy,” Gov. Sandoval said.

And to be sure, trucks are how around 70 percent goods are transported and tonnage is projected to triple by 2050.

So, a world filled with autonomous trucks could be just the ticket, and Daimler is in on the ground floor.