If you're not a big fan of the big rig and tend to have those nightmares where the huge commercial trucks are driving too fast and are seemingly heading to plow you off the deserted highway, then you're not going to be too thrilled to learn the latest innovation in truck technology: the autonomous, or self-driving, truck.
That's exactly what Daimler has developed with its Freightliner Inspiration Truck featuring the Highway Pilot system, which Daimler claims is the only system in the world boasting the sensor and camera technology necessary for autonomous truck operation.
The autonomous operation goal is to eliminate the potential dangers of human truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel or losing control of the vehicle for some reason or other.
"Ninety-percent of commercial truck accidents are due to driver error and one in eight of those are due to driver fatigue," said Wolfgang Bernhard, Freightliner head of trucks and buses, during the truck's debut at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
An autonomous operated truck, claims Daimler, will stem long-haul fatigue as it lets a computer take over when a human hand fails or is in some sort of distress.
It was just about a year ago when Daimler Trucks demoed the autonomous truck in action with a Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 driving along a cordoned-off section of an autobahn.
No matter if you're a truck fan or not, there is no denying the exterior lighting of the Inspiration Truck is eye-catching and alluring. The lighting system also serves as a unique alert beacon: when lights on the license plate and radiator grille are blue, the truck is in driverless, or autonomous, driving mode. The colors are white and yellow when the truck is being driven in standard operation.
The operational Highway Pilot is akin to the autopilot system used on commercial airplanes as it can maintain a cruise speed without a driver's involvement. There are cameras at the front end watching the road and scanning for signs, lane markets and traffic of other vehicles. The images are then processed into the system to keep the steering on course.
"The autonomously driving truck will increase fuel efficiency, improve traffic safety and reduce CO2 emissions," stated Daimler, which noted the use of the term "driverless" in referring to the truck isn't accurate as there is still a driver in the driver's seat.