Daimler has reportedly begun testing self-driving trucks on Virginia highways in a partnership with startup firm Torc Robotics. The self-driving trucks will still have humans on board capable of taking over the wheel in case of emergency.
VentureBeat reports that Daimler, the Germany-based automaker behind Mercedes-Benz, has announced that it has begun testing its self-driving trucks on Virginia highways in a partnership with startup firm Torc Robotics which Daimler recently agreed to acquire a majority stake in. The self-driving trucks, which are Freightliner Cascadias fitted with lidar sensors, cameras, radar, and Torc’s self-driving software will still have trained drivers and engineers onboard to monitor the truck’s performance as it pulls trailers with added weight to simulate transport loads.
The trucks have been described in the press release as of level 4 autonomous driving capability, which means that the trucks are capable of operating with limited human supervision under certain conditions as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Daimler further notes that its commercial vehicle division Daimler Trucks North America is designing a new truck chassis tailored for self-driving vehicles.
The firm is reportedly currently implementing level 2 tech in the latest version of its Detroit Assurance Platform which will include features such as automatic lane centering and lane-departure protection features. These features do, however, require that drivers remain engaged and alert at all times. Daimler expects that it’ll become broadly available by the first quarter of 2020.
The head of Daimler’s global truck and bus division Martin Daum commented: “Bringing Level 4 trucks to the public roads is a major step toward our goal to deliver reliable and safe trucks for the benefits of our customers, our economies and society.” The autonomous vehicle industry is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach 6,700 units globally totaling $54.23 billion this year. It’s estimated that self-driving vehicles could save the logistics and shipping industry $70 billion annually and boost productivity by 30 percent.