Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has unveiled the Freightliner Inspiration Truck that has been licensed officially for operating on public highways in Nevada. What is so amazing about it? The truck is autonomous and allows the driver to designate the full control to the onboard computer given that traffic is proper along with ideal environmental conditions.
Specialized freight haulers are destined for highways and freeways, so coming up with an autonomous truck where the driver would manage side streets and reversing up to the loading bay makes sense. The long-haul driving shall be covered by the computer. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval placed a license plate on the Freightliner Inspiration last Tuesday evening, granting it legal status and then climbed into it for the first drive. It is still a concept vehicle with only two working units, however, it does depict what the future of autonomous trucks looks like. It sports a complex system of sensors and computer hardware that make it a certified Level 3 autonomous vehicle capable of operation on public roads in a variety of conditions.
As per DTNA, the Inspiration truck is capable of staying in the designated lane, maintain the legal speed, keeping itself at a safe distance from another vehicle, being able to judge when to give control back to the driver and also able to break the truck to a halt safely. The Highway Pilot feature makes use of a combination of radar and cameras for collision avoidance, lane stability, braking, steering, speed control and general road keeping.
A short-range radar is located right behind the grille that scans out 70 meters in a 130-degree arc. A long-range unit scans out 250 meters in an 18-degree arc. These radars are integrated into the Active Cruise Control and Active Brake Assist. A stereo camera has been installed behind the windscreen which recognizes road markings and is crucial for the steering mechanism.
Richard Howard, Senior VP, Sales and Marketing DTNA said, “Freightliner Trucks does more than any other commercial truck manufacturer to integrate the truck, the driver and the business. The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is a case in point because it is not a driver-less truck — the driver is a key part of a collaborative vehicle system. With the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, drivers can optimize their time on the road while also handling other important logistical tasks, from scheduling to routing. The autonomous vehicle technology not only contributes to improved safety and efficiency, but allows for improved communication through connectivity and integration.”