The Highway Pilot system fitted to the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 is capable of autonomously driving at speeds up to 85km/h. Highway Pilot uses some new technology paired with items that are already available in trucks and passenger cars, such as active cruise control, autonomous braking, lane keeping assistance and stability control.
According to Daimler, self-driving trucks will have many benefits. By taking driver error out of the equation, accidents should decrease and insurance premiums will be reduced. With acceleration and deceleration that’s closer to “optimal", autonomous trucks will also be more fuel efficient and help to improve traffic flow.
Self-driving trucks that can communicate wirelessly with each other will be able follow each other more closely, reducing their usage of precious road space. All up these improvements will make for more precise cargo scheduling, which is required if, as predicted, road freight volumes across the world keep increasing.
The company also sees this as a way of improving the career prospects of truck drivers. By freeing them of the drudgery of driving on major roads and highways, Daimler believes that they’ll be able to perform some of the administrative tasks currently handled by office-bound workers. This will allow them climb the corporate ladder towards positions like transport manager and beyond.
Daimler says the Highway Pilot system could be launched into production trucks "as early as 2025 if conditions permit".
So far this year, Renault's Next Two proved that it was able to pilot itself at less than 30km/h, Volvo began testing autonomous cars on the streets of Gothenburg, Google demonstrated a self-driving car with neither pedals nor steering wheel, and the Mercedes-Benz S500 Intelligent Drive drove itself along 100km route on public roads.