One of the biggest manufacturers of trucks in the US has been granted a license that will allow a number of corporations to test self-driving vehicles on the roads of Nevada. Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck concept recently took to the highway near Las Vegas and managed to drive itself, with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval behind the wheel…if a pollie can drive the thing, then it must have a brain of its own. The FIT is a follow-up, or follow-on, to the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, unveiled late last year, which is being used to develop similar self-driving technology over in Europe.
The truck features Daimler’s intelligent Highway Pilot system for autonomous driving, which is being developed with technology used by Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. For licensing on Nevada roads, the technology was further developed and put through a series of tests including more than 10,000 miles on a dedicated circuit in Germany.
The Highway Pilot system comprises radar and stereo camera monitoring systems that look up to 250 metres ahead and incorporates cruise control, lane-keeping and collision-prevention technologies. Once the driver activates the system, it regulates the speed, applies the brakes and steers the vehicle under a wide range of driving conditions, automatically complying with speed limits, regulating the distance from the vehicle ahead, or operating the stop-and-go function during rush hour.
Overtaking and entering or leaving the highway is the responsibility of the driver who can deactivate the Highway Pilot at any time. If the vehicle is no longer able to process crucial aspects of its environment, such as road construction or severe weather, the driver is prompted to retake control well in advance. FITs can communicate with each other using radio waves to link up in convoy that allows them to drive much closer to each other and improve fuel efficiency by lowering drag.