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The first autonomous truck is on the road

The fast-paced advancement of technology has long been a preoccupation of today’s generation. You only need to look to the world of sci-fi film and literature to see a vision of the robotic future, sometimes embraced, and at other times feared. One of these advancements is self-driving cars, with many of the world’s leading transportation companies already rolling out technologies to help move things from A to B with little to no human interference. It's not just driverless cars that have become a reality - it was announced last month that the world’s first autonomous truck is now in action.

Introducing the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, a new breed in autonomous vehicles

Modelled on the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, which successfully took on Germany’s autobahn last year, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck is the product of German automaker, Daimler Trucks. Tested in Germany and already logging 10,000 miles before making its maiden voyage in the US, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck made sure it arrived in style, pulling up on the curved slopes of the Hoover Dam.

Using similar technology to the autopilot function in aeroplanes, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck has two main modes: driver-manned and automatic. Using a series of radar to detect up to 800 feet in front of it, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck can accommodate merging cars, and has a sensor system to ensure it follows the road rules, like mandatory speed-limits for semi-trailers.

It might be driverless, but it’s not man-less

Despite the excitement for the Freightliner Inspiration Truck to hit the road, there is still a way to go before the vehicle becomes fully operational on its own. While the truck can make a number of driving decisions for itself, it still requires the presence of a driver to mitigate the technology, as well as make various manoeuvres that the trucks themselves cannot, such as overtaking and dealing with dangerous driving conditions. If the truck itself senses bad weather, for example, it will indicate that the driver needs to take over and manually steer.

A step forward in improving trucking technology and transportation safety

With road accidents a serious problem, driverless trucking has been welcomed by many industry professionals, who have commented that it will help to reduce the number of sleep-related traffic incidents. The long hours and strenuous mental nature of truck-driving means there is often undue pressure, which could be alleviated and improve trucking safety.

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