Mercedes Self-Driving Big Rigs Hit the Autobahn

Mercedes Self-Driving Big Rigs Hit the Autobahn

Mercedes-Benz and other manufacturers are working to change the trucking industry as we know it. 

The company sent a convoy of three trucks from Stuttgart, Germany, to Rotterdam, Holland as part of the European Union’s European Truck Platooning Challenge of 2016. Other companies that also sent a convoy of trucks include Volvo and Scania.

For the trucks to roll together in a platoon, the lead vehicle is fitted with sensors, cameras, lasers and radars to watch the road around it. The trucks that are following get their information from vehicle-to-vehicle communication, allowing them to also be self-driven without the need to scan the road. When cars come between the trucks, they are able to open up an appropriate gap before squeezing back together once the car is gone.

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The trucks follow each other at a distance of 50 feet, which is one of the big advantages of the technology. By staying so close together, the drag on the two rearward trucks is greatly reduced, increasing fuel economy by up to 10 percent. That also means that CO2 emissions are cut down and the trucks take up less space on the road.

Even with this technology fitted, Mercedes still says that the driver must be alert behind the wheel. While the driverless technology still isn’t technically legal on most roads, the companies running in the platoon challenge were given special consideration.

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