Technology has been advancing for decades, and now, there’s a semi-truck that can drive by itself.
Yes, you read it right!
Freightliner’s Inspiration truck is the first semi-truck that can drive itself completely autonomously on well maintained highways, but only in good weather and in daylight.
This breakthrough doesn’t mean that you will see a semi-truck rolling on the highway next to you sans a driver. A licensed driver is required to be behind the wheel, and the driver will need to take over in some highway situations and whenever the truck is driving on streets. While the Inspiration truck is on the highway, the person behind the wheel really doesn’t have to pay attention. The driver can talk on the phone, text or even play…Candy Crush.
The Inspiration truck was granted the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States, by the state of Nevada. This semi-truck’s license is just as valid than the one you have! In order to be granted a license, Freightliner performed 16,000 kilometers of testing on the Inspiration truck to get this license.
The Inspiration truck will follow GPS directions, slow or stop or speed up as necessitated by traffic conditions. In addition, the Inspirational truck will also maintain a safe speed and stay in it’s lane – it won’t change lanes to pass.
The Inspiration truck operates at Autonomy Level 3, so it can take full control from a driver under some conditions; however, the driver still needs to be able to take over when the system needs help.
As of now, the Inspiration truck can only ride on highways. In the near future, Freightliner plans to make it more versatile. If the weather changes or the Inspirational truck needs to exit the highway, visual and audio alerts will be used to prompt the driver to take over. If for any reason the driver doesn’t take over, the truck will slowly bring itself to a stop. Know more.