If the idea of a self-driving car strikes you as just another intriguing future tech trend that may never make it to the mainstream, put that thought out of your mind — the latest from Mercedes-Benz indicates that self-driving autos are here to stay.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, unveiled a demonstration video of its Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 on Friday, showing the vehicle driving on its own at high speeds on Germany's autobahn.
Using a system the company calls the Highway Pilot, the human driver is able to switch control of the truck to the vehicle's embedded system and ride hands-free as a passenger.
In order to allow the truck to autonomously drive alongside other cars, the Highway Pilot uses a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communication via Wi-Fi (with a range of 1,640 feet), lateral radar on both sides of the truck (with a range of 197 feet) and full range (820 feet) and short-range (230 feet) radar mounted on the front of the truck. The truck also uses a front stereo camera, mounted just under its windshield.
The Future Truck 2025 is our response to the major challenges and opportunities associated with road freight transport in the futureThe Future Truck 2025 is our response to the major challenges and opportunities associated with road freight transport in the future," said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, a member of Daimler’s board of management, in a statement. "With the Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks is once again highlighting its pioneering role in innovative technologies and is opening up a new era in truck transport."
As its name indicates, the company hopes to have the technology operating regularly on the road by 2025, but first local laws will have to be enacted to allow for the introduction of autonomous vehicles onto human-populated highways.
If current developments around such autonomous systems persist, Daimler may not have to wait until 2025. One city in England has plans to roll out 100 self-driving cars for public use next year, and in California the state's Department of Motor Vehicles has approved autonomous car tests set to begin in September.
Nevertheless, Daimler remains conservative in its projections as to when its self-driving truck will actually hit the road.
"If the legislative framework for autonomous driving can be created quickly, the launch of the Highway Pilot is conceivable by the middle of the next decade," said Bernhard.
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