Freightliner Licenses Autonomous Truck in Nevada

Rolf Lockwood

First autonomous plate goes to FreightlinerLAS VEGAS, NV – At a ceremony Tuesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval officially granted the first licence for an autonomous commercial truck — or car, for that matter — to operate on an open public highway in the United States to Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). At the event, hosted by DTNA president & CEO Martin Daum, Sandoval took part in the inaugural trip of 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.

“Nevada is proud to be making transportation history today by hosting the first U.S. public highway drive for a licensed autonomous commercial truck. The application of this innovative technology to one of America’s most important industries will have a lasting impact on our state and help shape the New Nevada economy” said Sandoval.

“The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has been closely monitoring the advancements being made in autonomous vehicle development and reviewed DTNA’s safety, testing and training plans before granting permission for this demonstration of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck.”

The ceremony is part of a gathering of international journalists and trucking industry analysts that DTNA is hosting to showcase developments being made in autonomous commercial truck technology.

Journalists were given only a sneak peek of the truck — and no technical details —  before it was driven away, but the event continues tomorrow and more will be known after a ride-and-drive experience on public roads.

“The autonomous vehicle technology we are showcasing in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck will help reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, cut highway congestion, and safeguard the environment,” said Bernhard.

Nevada was selected as the demonstration location because it is one of four states, plus the District of Columbia, with 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 licence 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 on the safety systems in the truck and the training program for the drivers.

“We selected Nevada to unveil the Freightliner Inspiration Truck because it is one of only four states that require special licensing. Our goal was to not only showcase what is technologically possible, but to do it in a regulated environment with safety standards and other oversight requirements,” said Bernhard.

He added that the truck has so far had 10,000 miles of on-road testing, with more to come. We believe the truck is to be ready for sale within two years.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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