The truck that almost drives itself

With cameras installed in the windscreen and sensors in the front bumper connected to a smart central unit, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck – the latest release from vehicle manufacturer Daimler– is a next-generation truck designed to be semi-autonomous. It aims to make truckers’ lives easier by reducing their driving tasks and associated fatigue. Only two of these mammoth vehicles, which are authorized to drive in the US state of Nevada, have been built. But they are a sign of what could soon be semi-autonomous driving in a professional field.

Thanks to its smart sensors, the truck can analyze the road 250 metres ahead at an angle of 18 degrees (and 70 metres ahead at an angle of 130 degrees), while the central camera installed in the windscreen can recognize road markings 100 metres away at an angle of 45 degrees and then trigger appropriate action.
Of course, the truck won’t self-drive in a town centre, at a freight terminal or on busy country roads
Taking back control
Of course, the truck won’t self-drive in a town centre, at a freight terminal or on busy country roads. Its preferred terrain is the motorway. It’s there that the Freightliner Inspiration Truck can take charge of a multitude of driving tasks: staying in lane, maintaining direction while keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, keeping to the legal speed and braking when required. Crucially, it knows when to hand control back to the human driver. It can also adapt its driving to be as fuel-efficient as possible.
This next-generation truck could significantly reduce fuel use in the freight industry as well as reducing accidents involving drivers who clock up thousands of miles on every trip. However, the human driver remains the real one in charge, able to take back control from the computer at any time.
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