The first two semi-autonomous trucks built by Daimler AG are now officially allowed to navigate the public roads of Nevada. Although the “Freightliner Inspiration Trucks” cannot fully operate without a driver behind the wheel, these are the first more or less 'driverless' trucks legally registered in the US.
At first glance, the Inspiration Truck may look like a regular Freightliner (a flossy one though) but on the inside there is a complex system of sensors and computer hardware that allows the driver to sit back and relax, enjoying a movie on a tablet, at least most of the times. «The autonomous vehicle system is responsible for maintaining legal speed, staying in the selected lane, keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles, and slowing or stopping the vehicle based on traffic and road conditions. The vehicle monitors changes in conditions that require transition back to driver control when necessary in highway settings.» Apart from the difficult situations that still require direct control over the vehicle, the driver is also responsible for scheduling, routing and «other important logistical tasks.»
It is yet unclear if Daimler is going to produce more Freightliner Inspiration Trucks, but with the current pace of the driverless initiative development this is rather a question of legislation than of resources and technology.
For more information, check out the Freightliner's press release here.