Self-driving vehicles are coming. Whether they’re six months away 20 years into the future remains to be seen, but automakers are hard at work on them, including Daimler, which just unveiled a self-driving tractor trailer at CES.
The Freightliner Cascadia will offer SAE level-two autonomy, essentially partially automated driving. Think of Cadillac SuperCruise or Tesla’s Autopilot, rival systems that fall into this category by providing steering assist, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and more.
Cascadia will be the first truck to bring this level of capability to North American roads. Like mainstream passenger cars, the technology Daimler is offering here will work at a range of speeds, enabled by radar sensors and optical camera information.
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Taking things to the next level, the company is also working on level four capability, which would allow a truck to operate on predetermined routes completely without human intervention. This has the potential to greatly improve safety, lower shipping costs and even reduce on-road congestion by allowing trucks to more easily drive at night when there’s less traffic.
Self-driving cars could be the next paradigm-shifting transportation technology. Having a personal vehicle drive you to work in the morning is potentially an incredibly useful feature, but the benefits of this could pay even bigger dividends in the commercial-vehicle market.
Daimler Trucks is investing around $570 million to create 200 jobs to bring fully automated, SAE level four trucks to market within the next 10 years. the center of this activity is the company’s new bus and truck research center in Portland, Oregon, though work will also be done in Stuttgart, Germany as well as Bangalore, India to help them achieve this ambitious goal.
The Freightliner Cascadia, with level-two autonomy, is scheduled to launch later in 2019.
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