Daimler tests first self-driving truck on the Autobahn

Daimler received a permit allowing it to test the first Mercedes-Benz automated truck on the Autobahn in Germany on Friday.

We’ve been hearing about self-driving cars for quite a while now, and many of the world’s major technology companies are all stepping up with prototypes that will change the way we drive for good. But autonomous vehicles won’t only revolutionize the way we travel around; they will also create profound shifts in the trucking industry, and auto companies are looking for their share of this market segment as well.

According to a report from Automotive World, the Mercedes-Bens Actros with Highway pilot has been released by Daimler’s trucking division as the first series-production truck to drive using autonomous technology on an open road. The company tested the truck on the Autobahn between Denkendorf and Stuttgart Airport on Friday.

The truck is the first series-production trucking vehicle to drive on using automated navigational technology on an open motorway, and Prime Minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg Winifried Kretschmann, board member of Daimler AG responsible for the Trucks and Buses division, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard came along for the ride.

The company is the first to receive a permit to operate a self-driving vehicle on German motorways. The truck is simply a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, but equipped with the autonomous Highway Pilot system that allows it to safely navigate public roads. The Rhineland German Technical Inspection Authority approved the truck’s maiden voyage in accordance with German road traffic laws. According to Dr. Bernhard, the premier of the truck on the Autobahn represents a massive step forward towards self-driving trucks becoming a reality on roads across the world. The Daimler board member believes that self-driving trucks would make the road freight industry safer and more sustainable.

According to the Head of Development of Daimler Trucks, Sven Enerst, the company is thrilled that the tests received approval for driving on public roadways. He believes that the state has full faith in the technology, and he is reassured that the government believes the operating system on the autonomous truck is indeed safe.

The truck navigates the roads and avoids obstacles and hazards with the use of many different sensors. The Highway Pilot system is able to continuously see the full area ahead of the vehicle, and can override driver control to react to hazards in a split second. The driver can sit back, relax, and check out the news on his iPad as the truck cruises down the road, as Dr. Bernhard is pictured above.

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