The autonomous vehicle revolution is on the verge. It’s been talked about for awhile but it’s now gradually starting to happen all over the country. Just this week, Daimler, the Stuttgart, Germany-originated car-maker responsible for Mercedes Benz, began testing autonomous trucks on Virginia highways.
The truck is the Freightliner Cascadia which has been equipped with lidar sensors, cameras, and radar and Torc’s self-driving software. (Torc is the start-up Daimler partnered up with on this project.) These trucks will have trained drivers and engineers riding onboard as they tug trailers with added weight to mimic actual freight loads in the area near Torc’s offices in Blacksburg, Virginia.
According to the press release, the vehicles are pegged as level 4 and are able to operate with minimal human interaction under prescribed conditions as outlined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
The Daimler Corporation also noted that its singularly owned commercial truck division, Daimler Trucks North America (DTMA) is busy developing a truck chassis crafted for automated driving. Additionally, it is working with the infrastructure to allow for level 4 truck testing in the coming decade. More specifically, Daimler is currently instituting level 2 tech in its latest version (5.0) of its Detroit Assurance platform. This will incorporate automatic lane centering and lane movement protection features while requiring that drivers remain alert and engaged throughout.
By the first quarter of 2020 Daimler anticipates the platform will be universally available.
Other Moves to Prepare for Driver-less Future
This is just one maneuver among many that DTMA has executed in order to advance toward a self-driving future. In January the company went public with a plan to invest over $570 million to accomplish level 4 driving by the end of the decade. Additionally, in June it created the Autonomous Technology Group to gather its automated driving activities under one umbrella. This includes Torc’s Blacksburg operations.
“Bringing level 4 trucks to the public roads is a major step toward our goal to deliver reliable and safe trucks for the benefits of our customers, our economies, and society,” said Martin Daum, the leader of Daimler’s global truck and bus division.
So what do you all think about this possible self-driving vehicle future?