Nevada grants road license to Daimler’s autonomous Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 21, 2015

Daimler Trucks’ autonomous Freightliner Inspiration Truck has taken its first trip on U.S. highway 15 in Las Vegas. Daimler Trucks now has a road license from the state of Nevada to use an autonomous heavy-duty truck on the road – the first manufacturer in the world to get one. This first journey was made by Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

For autonomous driving, the truck features the intelligent Highway Pilot system. Two Freightliner Inspiration Trucks were licensed for regular operation on public roads. Daimler Trucks is the top truck producer in the world. With the Freightliner brand, it’s also known as the largest producer in the U.S.

The new Freightliner Inspiration Truck is the epitome of Daimler Trucks’ aspiration for future transport to be safer, more networked, and more efficient. The first demonstration took place in July 2014 of an autonomous truck --- the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 – along a portion of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg that was cordoned off.

The debut of the Inspiration Truck on a U.S. public road makes it one step closer to series production. Testing has been ongoing for the past few months over several thousands of kilometres. Dr. Bernhard said that Daimler Trucks is the only manufacturer to be able to apply technologies in all of its business units and brands.

He shared that it took a very short time to transfer its Highway Pilot system to its U.S. Freightliner brand and to develop it to allow for the road licensing of the first autonomous truck in the world. The Freightliner Inspiration Truck had its world premiere in a site near Las Vegas. In attendance were representatives of the media, government, and even from the business and finance sectors.

There’s no argument that trucks are the most important transport method in the U.S. In 2012, about 70% of all freight tonnage in the U.S. was transported by trucks. Trucks moved a total of 9.4 billion tons of freight. It’s predicted that by 2050, there will be a tripling of the road freight transport around the world.

With the entry of autonomous trucks, businesses are able to cope with this growth in a way that meets financial and environmental needs. Gov. Sandoval said that the state is proud to make a mark in transportation history as it hosted the first U.S. public highway drive for a licensed autonomous commercial truck.

He added that the New Nevada economy will benefit in the long term with the use of this innovation by one of the most important industries in the U.S. Before the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles gave permission for the Freightliner Inspiration Truck to have its demonstration, it closely monitored the progress made in autonomous vehicle development as well as conducted a review of DTNA’s safety, testing and training plans.

The series-made U.S. Freightliner Cascadia Evolution model served as the basis for the Freightliner Inspiration Truck. However, it now features the Highway Pilot technology, which includes front radar and a stereo camera as well as the assistance systems like the Adaptive Cruise Control+, as used in the Mercedes-Benz Actros.

To be able to get licensing for public roads in the state of Nevada, the company developed the technology further and conducted more testing of the interaction of components. The truck underwent a Marathon Run and drove through more than 10,000 miles on a test circuit in Germany. [source: Mercedes-Benz]

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