Mercedes-Benz is already one of the leaders in developing autonomous driving technology for passenger cars, and now the company is extending this technology to a new segment: semi trucks. This so-called Future Truck 2025 gives a glimpse at how self-driving tech could revolutionize road freight transport in the future with its new Highway Pilot system.
This technology allows the truck to drive itself on the freeway at speeds up to 52 mph thanks to a system that is even more advanced than existing adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic braking systems. Mercedes compares the Highway Pilot system to an autopilot system on an airplane, as this technology uses information about road topography and other route characteristics to optimize powertrain usage for better fuel economy. Eventually, the company envisions the possibility for trucks to communicate with each other to predict and plan upcoming acceleration and braking patterns to create a homogenous traffic pattern.
Mercedes-Benz also sees the importance of this self-driving technology in terms of how it would open up the possibilities for truck drivers, as road transport throughout Europe is estimated to increase over the next decade. Not only would the autonomous systems shown in the Future Truck 2025 minimize the amount of monotonous driving for drivers, it would also free up these drivers to perform other tasks while the autopilot is engaged. For instance, drivers would have more time to perform transport management duties from behind the wheel, which could make truck driving a more attractive profession according to Mercedes-Benz.
Even though Mercedes performed a successful test of the Future Truck 2025’s Highway Pilot system on the A14 autobahn in Germany, the technology is still further down the road in terms of real-world applications. The company is aiming to launch this self-driving system by 2025 at the earliest, hence the prototype truck’s name. That’s slightly later than when Mercedes-Benz plans to sell a self-driving car equipped with its Intelligent Drive autonomous technology that’s already been tested on real-world roads in a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Germany