December 30, 2015 Vol. 12 No. 25

Trucking has never, ever bored me, least of all its various technologies. Through nearly four decades of covering it as a journalist — writing this newsletter for a dozen — I’ve been endlessly fascinated, happily learning all the time.

That said, the shine was gradually wearing off after penning my 463rd brake story, metaphorically speaking, until the summer of 2014. When I went to Germany to attend the launch of the Mercedes Actros autonomous truck — known as Future Truck 2025 — the journalistic juices began flowing again (see my report from July 16, 2014 here). And this past year they became a torrent.

We’ve been building up to an explosion of mighty interesting technology and limitless possibilities, and I think it happened in 2015.

The thing is, there’s much more to come.

THE AUTONOMOUS FREIGHTLINER, the so-called Inspiration truck, was obviously the year’s biggest news. Launched by way of a spectacular presentation at the Hoover Dam in Nevada, in a sense the real surprise was that the state licensed it for use on public roads.

Who knew that Nevada would — or could — lead the way?

But its urbane and articulate Governor, Brian Sandoval, is clearly committed to pushing this technology forward, and he and his state have helped accomplish what once seemed almost certain to be a European breakthrough.

In fact it’s the first self-driving vehicle of any kind, with four wheels or 18, to gain  a licence anywhere in the world. Make that two, because Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) built two of them, and both are licensed in Nevada.