Daimler’s self-driving commercial truck — otherwise known as the Freightliner Inspiration — is now the world’s first autonomous vehicle of its kind to legally operate on public roads in the state of Nevada.
Earlier this month — in an act that quite possibly resulted in the biggest news story in the transport industry this year — Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval installed a state license plate on Daimler’s automated truck. The vehicle is equipped with a feature known as Highway Pilot, which incorporates a stereo camera and radar technology with lane-keeping and collision-prevention systems.
According to Motor Trend, the German multinational automotive corporation — which has its hand in Wester Star trucks, Thomas Built buses, and Mercedes-Benz and Smart vehicles (among others) — demonstrated its driverless technology nearly a year ago on the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. That feature has since been moved onto the Freightliner Inspiration, which is basically a Cascadia model equipped with a tablet computer and the brand’s “intelligent” system.
Daimler’s commercial vehicle combined with Highway Pilot is a big deal since it can help reduce accidents, improve fuel economy, cut highway congestion, and — most interesting of all — allow drivers to complete important logistical tasks during long hauls.
The catch, however, is that truck operators can only activate the special autonomous mode when on the highway, which in turn will ignite an array of blue lights on the vehicle’s license plate, indicators, and the radiator grille as a type of heads-up to other drivers. Once the system has been switched on, the Freightliner Inspiration will then adjust to the speed of traffic and the driverless system will regulate the truck’s speed (based on posted signs), independently steer, and apply the brakes when need be. Changing lanes and passing maneuvers, however, remain the responsibility of the driver.