Freightliner Inspiration First Commercial Truck To Receive Nevada Autonomous Vehicle Plate
Unveiled atop Hoover Dam in Nevada last night, the Freightliner Inspiration is the first commercial truck to receive the state’s autonomous vehicle license plate.
The semi-autonomous Inspiration, a result of Daimler AG’s Highway Pilot technology program, is meant to help reduce stress and fatigue on the highway by taking over driving duties when needed, The Verge reports. Per the company, 90 percent of accidents involving commercial trucks are due to driver error, with one out of eight of those accidents the result of driver fatigue.
As far as autonomy goes, the Inspiration is ranked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a Level 3 autonomous vehicle – the same level as Google’s own autonomous cars – allowing the driver to let the truck take the wheel in certain conditions so they can rest while maintaining their schedule. It also only needs the white lines painted on the road to keep it in check, though other features like vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology would bring more to the table, Daimler’s truck chief Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard noted during the truck’s introduction.
Though Nevada’s roads may see an Inspiration now and again, the truck won’t have much traction in the market until federal regulation clears the way for testing in various conditions – rain, sleet, snow, cold, sun et al – ultimately leading toward sales and an increased presence in many an over-the-road fleet.
[Photo credit: Freightliner]
That photo is taken on the same road that the Las Vegas Speedway is on, actually a few miles past the speedway. There is a significant amount of zoom in the photo, look at the Vegas Skyline.
This technology should reduce the cost of transport of goods. This is great. I do know here in Australia many trucks have two drivers. One is sleeping whilst the other drives. This should allow for the driver to rest and increase the length of his working day. They still get paid the same, but cover many more miles.
Still a body on board. Maybe they could pay it less. Future ride-along for retirees needing income supplement? Thought the YouTube glossy corporate hype. Much like my place.
My response relates to driver safety. Large trucks, though they look rugged, are pretty flimsy in terms of driver protection. These vehicles are top heavy and an upset at any speed often means a driver fatality. Have a look at any semi truck that catches fire. Most of the cab just disappears and the highest thing left is the frame of the driver's seat. While probably a lot could be done to protect the drivers, it seems like nothing beyond seatbelts has been done. The industry doesn't seem to value drivers' lives enough to put the money into safety structures and systems. The physics involved makes adequate protection a challenge. And the drivers themselves would rather spend money on lights and chrome than safety systems. Preventing crashes to begin with seems like the best approach, and, setting aside the "thar be dragons" worries about them running amok, these systems can only help prevent crashes and therefore save lives.