The big, big news this month was the unveiling by Daimler Trucks North America of an autonomous Freightliner dubbed the Inspiration Truck.
This truck is road-legal in Nevada, the first jurisdiction to put into place a regulatory framework to allow its use. Media continue to refer to this as a ‘driverless’ truck but as I wrote in my column this month, that’s simply not true – a driver is still required.
There’s a lot this truck can do, such as taking over the controls during monotonous on-highway driving scenarios and giving the driver a break or an opportunity to multitask. There’s still a lot it can’t do, including driving through cities, dropping or picking up a load or driving in inclement weather where lane markings aren’t clearly visible to the cameras.
We’re still a long way from seeing true driverless trucks on public roads. It might not even happen in our lifetimes. Aircraft, for example, still require a pilot and co-pilot even though the plane can be operated on autopilot for much of its journey. It could be the same for trucking as I still don’t see the motoring public being willing, anytime soon, to share the road with truly driverless big rigs. And show me the politician who’s going to make push that through.
The unveiling of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck has certainly started a dialogue, however. Check out this report on the vision of an autonomous truck corridor running from Manitoba to Mexico. May never happen but the wheels are now turning, in more ways than one.
You probably have read all about Freightliner’s Inspiration Truck already, but if not, check out our coverage here:
The technology will allow professional drivers to become logistics managers, focusing on non-driving activities while in Highway Pilot mode, Daimler claims.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies