Mercedes-Benz unveiled a semi-truck called the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. Incredibly, it drives itself on the highway. The self-driving truck’s technology could eventually help decrease the number of highway accidents that kill thousands of people each year.
The Future Truck 2025 uses a combination of advanced dual cameras, radar sensors, and blind-spot technology to analyze the truck’s surroundings to get a sense of traffic and terrain. The technologies will maintain lane position and following distance. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology will connect the truck to other cars on the road, providing their exact locations and speeds. While the truck does not need this data to drive autonomously, it will be needed for detecting stopped vehicles or moving aside for emergency vehicles, among other things, said Wired (10.7.14).
Currently the system is only designed to work on an open road, like a highway. A driver is still required to get the truck onto the interstate and merge into traffic. The highway is where truck drivers most often fall asleep. In addition to accidents caused by drowsy drivers, the “Highway Pilot” system will also cut down the number of accidents caused by distracted driving and road rage.
Mercedes refers to the system as “Highway Pilot”, the Future Truck. It is called the 2025 as it will likely not be available until that year.
In the Future Truck, the driver becomes a “transport manager” once the Highway Pilot is activated. If the truck approaches construction, or it’s time to get off the highway, the truck will flash a visual alert to tell the driver to get his or her hands back on the wheel. If he driver does not do this soon enough, the truck sounds an alarm, and the truck can make itself come to a controlled stop in an emergency, as necessary.
According to Wired, Mercedes is serious about spending the next decade perfecting the truck and getting it ready for commercial use. Some details Mercedes is still sorting out includes questions such as “how to ensure data from the vehicles is secure, how liability will work in the event of an (inevitable) crash, and if rules regulating how much rest truck drivers get will still apply,” said Wired.
In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 330,000 large trucks were involved in crashes in the US. Those accidents killed 3,921 people and injured 104,000 others. The large majority of those injured were the occupants of other, smaller vehicles.
The Wired article cited is “Mercedes Is Making a Self-Driving Semi to Change the Future of Shipping.”