Self-Driving Freightliner Inspiration Truck Debuts

May 07, 2015 by Carina Ockedahl, @Ockis9

When a new model is introduced, it’s often done in style. But Daimler recently went the extra mile: The automotive company revealed its new Freightliner Inspiration truck in “record-setting fashion,” according to Truck News.

The self-driving model made its grand debut during a spectacular world-premiere event at the Hoover Dam, where the famous barrier was used as a giant projector screen featuring 1.17 million lumens. The display earned Freightliner the Guinness World Record for the highest light-output projection ever.

Last we spoke of the Inspiration truck, it had become the world’s first autonomous vehicle of its kind licensed to drive on Nevada’s public roads. We also discussed Highway Pilot, an “intelligent” system featured on the new Freightliner, which can independently steer and apply the vehicle’s brakes when necessary, thus relieving drivers from monotonous tasks to focus on logistics via a removable tablet in the dashboard.

The technology is meant to make life easier — and safer — for truck operators. In fact, according to David Giroux, head of corporate communications and public relations of Daimler Trucks North America, “Results of our recent study clearly show: Driver drowsiness decreases by 25 percent through autonomous driving.” That being said, when autopilot is activated, you still need to be in the seat, ready to take over.

As for the future of Highway Pilot and whether or not drivers should be worried about losing their jobs to a machine, Giroux says, “Instead of steering a vehicle for hours along a straight lane, [truck operators] can steer business and do organizational work. This makes the driver’s job more attractive.”

At the moment, the Inspiration model is not yet available to fleet owners, since the current version is only a test vehicle. However, Giroux notes that when the new technology goes into production, it will be offered “at an attractive price.”

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