At the 2014 International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA), Daimler brought its spectacular Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 study, a vehicle that previews the long-distance truck of tomorrow. When it comes to design, the concept is absolutely impressive and follows the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of ‘Sensual Purity’.
The Future Truck 2025 study represents a big step for the current trucks and its design is composed around the star as the central element. Classic elements such as the headlamps are completely missing and were replaced by LEDs that illuminate the front end, while orange flashing lights indicate when the truck is changing directions.
The colour of the other lights changes to blue when the truck is driving autonomously and to white when is being controlled manually. The interior shows a calming design and creates a visual separation between the areas of driving and living. When the truck is on autonomous mode, the driver is able to recline his seat and turn it by 45 degrees into the space in order to adopt a relaxed position.
A tablet computer is used to process documents and schedule more destinations as well as accepting further orders. Thanks to the radar sensors and camera technology, the Future Truck is able to drive autonomously and does not depend of other vehicles or central control stations. The intelligent ‘Highway Pilot’ system resembles the autopilot found on an aircraft.
The radar sensor located in the front has a 250 meters range and can scan an 18-degree segment, while a short-range sensor has a range of 70 meters while scanning a 130-degrees segment. Meanwhile, a stereo camera installed above the instrument support behind the windscreen keeps the area ahead of the vehicle in view.
If the truck is equipped with the Lane Keeping Assist system, the range of the stereo camera is 100 m and can scan an area of 45 degrees horizontally and 27 degrees vertically. According to Mercedes-Benz, the stereo camera is able to identify single- or two-lane roads, pedestrians, moving and stationary objects, as well as all objects within the monitored area.
Furthermore, the truck features radar sensors installed in the sides that have a range of 60 m and cover an angle of 170 degrees in the longitudinal direction. The “Highway Pilot” can be partnered with V2V and V2I networking, which means that it can communicate with every vehicle found in the near area and transmit continuous information to its surroundings.
When on the road, the Future Truck 2025 from Mercedes-Benz does so without being in isolation. This is because it continuously communicates with the surroundings in a way that it is not noticed by the driver. Traffic information for example is communicated in this manner with the data then becoming available to all of the road users. Since networked vehicles are able to react immediately to the data, homogeneous traffic flow is guaranteed as well as being able to utilize limited road infrastructure.
This fact, mixed in with autonomous driving means that road traffic will move on to become a self-learning system. The improved traffic flow results in the average speed being enhanced but without the need to increase the maximum speed. This also means that homogeneous traffic helps in saving fuel.
Autonomous driving has long been considered as a thing of the future but with it being put into practice, it is now a reality. This includes, clearly, being independent of the other users on the road. Once the Future Truck 2025 is able to join with the motorway, the driver then merges with the traffic flow and in the appropriate lane. The system then encourages the driver to activate what is known as “Highway Pilot.”
Once activated, the vehicle then shifts to autonomous mode. Based on the current traffic situation, this model can run on the road in an independent manner. The reason is that the Future Truck 2025 does not need any vehicle in the front to function as a reference in order to guide this vehicle through traffic. Indeed, the model is able to function autonomously in its lane.
Should the system detect a vehicle in the front, the vehicle can make the necessary adjustments to the speed, as long as it is within the allowable limit, and keep a set safe distance. What this means is that other vehicles can safely join the lane. With safety distance being retained, the Future Truck 2025 is able to perfectly adapt to its environment.
As mentioned earlier, the Future Truck 2025 makes use of networking and this is why it is able to run in a manner that’s independent of the other users on the road. Thus in order to experience all the benefit as it relates to logical efficiency and even optimizing the use of the infrastructure, it is important to have comprehensive networking. This particular development is expected to come about in a steady manner with open protocols and standards playing an important role.