Freightliner Launches First Licensed Autonomous Commercial Truck

Posted on June 1, 2015

Freightliner introduced the Inspiration Truck earlier this month. The truck is the first licensed autonomous commercial truck in the U.S. The truck was unveiled at a ceremony at the Hoover Dam earlier this month. So far, it can drive autonomously only in Nevada but other states are likely to allow autonomous trucks in the future.

The truck was developed by engineers at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). Freightliner says the truck can help reduce accidents and improve fuel consumption. They also say it will help reduce highway congestion.

The truck will operate as a Level 3 autonomous vehicle. This designation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration means that a driver is required to be inside the truck but the driver can cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions. The driver can do other things - like use a tablet - while the truck is driving itself. A photograph and video supplied by Freightliner show a truck driver using a tablet while the autonomous truck is driving itself. Freightliner says in the video, "What if the driver could be free to do whatever he wants?"

CNET says the driver can immediately take back control of the truck by grabbing the wheel or touching the brake. CNET also says there are things the truck cannot do such as taking the right exits and driving the truck into loading bays.

Daimler says the truck contains Highway Pilot sensors and computer hardware that links camera technology and radar systems together with "lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering and other monitoring systems." The autonomous truck can do things like maintain a designated speed, keep a safe braking distance from other vehicles and slow or stop itself based on road and traffic conditions.

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