Self-Driving Big Rig Revealed

Self-Driving Big Rig Revealed

Cutting-edge technology for big rigs was disclosed this week. The exciting news making headlines is the unveiling of the Inspiration Truck by Freightliner. The Inspiration Truck is a big rig that is partially autonomous; that’s right – a big rig that drives itself (to a certain degree).

This is good news for everyone. A self-driving big rig could save lives, mitigate driver fatigue and stress, and reduce CO2 emissions by 5 percent. The company that produced the vehicle has completed more than 10,000 miles of testing on the truck. The State of Nevada has officially granted the vehicle an “autonomous vehicle” license plate – the first ever for a commercial truck.

The automation technology, called “Highway Pilot” technology, isn’t designed to replace truck drivers. The idea is to solve the industry-plague of over-fatigued drivers. According to Daimler (who owns Freightliner), 90% of truck crashes are a result of driver error, and fatigue plays a role in at least one out of every eight of those cases.

The Inspiration Truck is rated a “level 3” on the NHTSA’s automation scale, the same as Google’s self-driving cars are currently rated. The rating means that the vehicle is capable of taking full control of the vehicle in certain traffic or environmental conditions. The driver can always take control back but the vehicle will “allow a reasonable transition time.”

The Inspiration Truck is raising some important issues about liability as well as performance during inclement weather conditions. The company stated it needs to perform more testing to see how the Inspiration Truck performs in the rain, the heat, or icy road conditions. Another major hurdle the industry will have to overcome is to institute “self-driving-friendly-regulations” that already exist in the State of Nevada. Since many truck routes cross state lines, the entire nation will need to be on board with automated big rigs such as the Inspiration Truck before they become commonplace.

Photo Credit: The Verge