Self-driving autonomous truck Vegas-style: Freightliner Inspiration

World-Premiere-Freightliner-Inspiration-TruckWhat happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas when it’s the news of the first autonomous big rig tractor trailer truck to hit the road hauling the governor of Nevada.

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Gov. Brian Sandoval granted the first self-driving license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on highways in the United States to Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). He rode in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck in autonomous mode with Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Daimler Trucks & Buses, at the controls. There were two news releases available to the media, one from the state of Nevada and another from Daimler.

In the evening, there was a super huge drive-in style media extravaganza with ginormous images projected of the truck onto the Hoover dam while the truck drove over it. The size of the Hoover Dam is 726.4 ft by 1,244 ft, making for a super-sized projection screen. Daimler claims that “the Hoover Dam was selected for the unveiling because it represents America’s ability to dream big and accomplish amazing things, even in the midst of adversity.”

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is based on the series-produced U.S. Freightliner Cascadia Evolution model, but with the addition of the Highway Pilot technology. To enable self-driving features a front radar and a stereo camera with Adaptive Cruise Control+ were give enhanced functionality. The Freightliner Inspiration Truck covered over 10,000 miles (over 16,000 kilometers) on a test circuit in Germany. With two trucks equipped with self-driving technology can use “platooning” to save fuel through connectivity.

The Highway Pilot technology leads to better concentration for efficient long-haul truck drivers.  Studies showed measurements of the probands´ brain currents (EEG) demonstrated that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25% when the truck is being operated in autonomous mode, with the driver pursuing other meaningful operations. The studies also show a high acceptance of the Highway Pilot . Daimler believes that relieving strains of the driver through autonomous truck driving leads to more road safety.

SuperTruck is equipped with the DT12 automated transmission and predictive technology that controls the vehicle speed using GPS and digital 3D maps. In test drives, the SuperTruck at a weight of 65,000 lbs ) used an average of 12.2 mpg a speed of around 65 mph.

Nevada was selected because it has laws regulating autonomous vehicle operation. Nevada legislation passed in 2011 and 2013 regulates the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles. The legislation includes commercial trucks and sets standards specifying the number of miles an autonomous vehicle must have been tested in certain conditions before it can be granted a license to be driven in Nevada.

Daimler obtained a special permit from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to operate the Freightliner Inspiration Truck on public roads near Las Vegas after supplying state officials with detailed information las-vegas-mirror-what-happens-in-vegas-stays-in-vegason the safety systems in the truck and the training program for the drivers.

To receive the permit truck manufacturers to have a $5 million insurance policy, take out a $5 million bond, or make a $5 million deposit or bond with the DMV as proof of financial responsibility and the ability to cover possible liabilities for damage to persons and/or property.

SuperTruck is equipped with the DT12 automated transmission and predictive technology that controls the vehicle speed using GPS and digital 3D maps. In test drives, the SuperTruck at a weight of 29.5 metric tons (65,000 lbs GVWR) consumed an average of about 19 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (12.2 mpg) at a speed of around 100 km/h (65 mph).

Since Nevada is the only state to license the big rig SuperTruck, the truck while in autonomous mode, will have to stay not in Vegas, but stay in Nevada until laws are enacted and refined.