In the past few years, we’ve been hearing plenty about self-driving cars. Google’s autonomous vehicles are well-known by this point, and more and more companies are rushing to create self-driving autos that inspire a radically different future for drivers everywhere. We’ve even seen self-driving cars go coast to coast at this point. But what we have yet to see in the world of autonomous autos is a self-driving semi truck. But no more – the first autonomous semi is here!
Yep, that’s right – now even semi trucks have entered the fray. Freightliner Trucks can now take up the mantle as the first company to create a semi truck that does not require a driver. While this development is certainly exciting, it may not be as thrilling for semi drivers, who could envision a future where cargo is transported across the country without any need for human drivers.
Freightliner just received the first Nevada state license to operate an autonomous semi-truck on public highways, and the company will conduct the grand experiment of seeing if driverless technology can make moving freight more efficient.
Freightliner’s new driverless wonder is called the Inspiration, a fitting name for a concept which could revolutionize the entire trucking industry. The Inspiration utilizes a front radar sensor, stereoscopic cameras, and other sensors that allow the truck to stay aware of its place on the road. The truck also uses Active Cruise Control+, taken from the Euro Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, allowing it to adjust its speed according to road conditions and situations as well.
It’s worth noting that Freightliner’s plan is not to completely replace human drivers – the autonomous driving features can also be used to complement human efforts, and allow truck drivers to be more efficient. Autonomous features could cut down significantly on detrimental issues such as driver fatigue, which is a common problem amongst long-haul truck drivers.
However, the possibility of a future without a necessity for truck drivers whatsoever is definitely feasible. Whether this technology will be a blessing or a curse for today’s semi drivers very much remains to be seen.
The Inspiration has already completed approximately 10,000 miles of testing in Germany, but with a Nevada license now secured, Freightliner can begin to test the car on American roads in earnest. What happens from there is anyone’s guess, but in any case, things just got a lot more interesting in the world of driverless vehicles.