“A truck that runs itself – The Mercedes Truck that reminds you of the ‘Duel'”
About a month ago, we wrote about the Google Self Driving car, which can go from place to place without any driver intervention. That was reason enough to wonder at the pace of advancing technology, given that the first assembly-line produced car, the Ford Model T, started its production run just over a hundred years ago in 1908. Now Mercedes-Benz is showing of its Self-driving truck technology. Recently the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 prototype rolled down a German autobahn on a trial run.
To watch this 40 ton behemoth rolling down the autobahn, must have been reminiscent of the ‘70s classic Steven Spielberg movie ‘Duel’, where an apparently driver less tanker truck terrorizes an innocent traveler and his car and almost kills him, minus the menace. The Future Truck 2025 which looked almost like a normal Mercedes-Benz model, had a driver, but Hans Luft, the trucker was very noticeably toying with an iPad, as the vehicle cruised down the road, seemingly on autopilot, with the steering wheel making slight corrections on its own.According to Luft, it was a very relaxing experience.
The Future Truck 2025 prototype looks very much like a regular Mercedes-Benz truck, but visually, the cab is covered with adhesive foil, to give it a mysterious look and it has some extra aerodynamic fins. It is also equipped with radar which scans 250 meters ahead to detect other vehicles around it and that keeps it on the lane and maintains the speed the driver has set. It is also equipped with sensors which by networking with the control system, allows the vehicle to make better use of all the automation found in production models such automatic braking, stability control and lane-warning systems. However, the driver has to take over for potentially dangerous maneuvers such as overtaking and lane changing.
To start, the data has to be programmed in by the driver. This is done using a tablet. This also shows the route and information about the vehicle. Once the system is switched on, the seat can be used an office chair or swiveled into a resting position. This is designed to take the strain off the driver, and also allows him to catch up with the paperwork, and safely receive calls. You can watch the video to see this in action.
Daimler is the leading German automaker in challenging Google’s efforts at making a driver-less car. They are already looking into the automation of cars in this field. They think that there is equal scope for that in both passenger transport and freight haulage.According to Wolfgang Bernhardt, chief of Daimler Trucks, ‘Autonomous driving will revolutionize road freight transport and create major benefits.
‘We aim to be the number one manufacturer in this market of the future which we believe will offer solid revenue and earnings potential.’
The TRUCK that can drive itself: Mercedes shows off self-driving system for freight vehicles – and say they will be on roads within 15 years
As the Future Truck’s name suggests, the aim is to get it into production by 2025. Bernhardt says that this truck will not just remain a prototype.
Sweden’s Scania has also entered the automation field, albeit on a slightly different tack. They are looking at the ‘platooning’ technology, whereby several trucks can travel in tight formation, with only one driver controlling the convoy from the lead truck. So serious movement is underway in Europe to develop driver-less technology.
So, there you have it. A self-driving truck from Mercedes-Benz which could become a reality in about 15 years. Although some objections from various transport workers’ unions is probably going to be raised, there is no doubt, these vehicles will definitely go a long way to ease driver fatigue, which is a common reason for accidents, thus making the business safer and more efficient.