Self-driving Mercedes-Benz truck completes first journey

By: Michael Cahill


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After a successful trial journey, Mercedes-Benz predicts self-driving trucks as early as 2025.

 

The Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 has successfully completed its first journey on a highway in Germany thanks to a newly developed highway pilot system.

The system makes use of already-available driver assist technologies, such as automatic braking, stability control and lane-warning systems, but adds a variety of radars that can see up to 250m of road up ahead, and 60m laterally.

With these, the truck scans the road for potential obstacles and other vehicles, and accelerates, brakes and manoeuvres as required. At the media event demonstration, the truck drove itself on a highway at 85km/h with no driver intervention. However, the technology currently requires a driver for lane changes and overtaking.

A video from the unveiling shows the truck driving down an empty highway before the camera cuts to the driver, who promptly takes his eyes off the road and his hands off the wheel to operate an iPad.

Mercedes-Benz says the highway pilot system will save drivers from having to perform monotonous tasks, while giving them "more time for tasks that were previously handled by office workers at shipping companies".

The system is designed to improve efficiency and safety, but many legislative challenges lie ahead.

"If the legislative framework for autonomous driving can be created quickly, the launch of the highway pilot is conceivable by the middle of the next decade," Daimler management board member Wolfgang Bernhard says.

National Transport Commission (NTC) CEO Paul Retter recently told Owner//Driver Australia’s transport ministers indicated they would like the NTC to examine the costs and potential benefits of autonomous vehicles and related matters.

"In the interim, NTC will continue to collaborate with overseas governments engaged in this type of work," Retter says.

"We believe the chances of success are good, because autonomous driving combines the ability to achieve business and technology objectives with the creation of benefits for society and the environment," Bernhard adds.

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