The future is here. It’s only a matter of time before Skynet comes online.
In massive news for the autonomous driving world, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval joined Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Daimler Trucks & Buses, at an event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has just mounted licence plates onto a Freightliner Inspiration semi-truck. This event marks it as the world’s first licenced autonomous commercial vehicle operating on public highways and roads in North America.
Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard says, “The autonomous vehicle technology we are showcasing in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck will help reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, cut highway congestion, and safeguard the environment.”
Currently, Nevada is one of four states in the U.S. that has regulations on the books allowing autonomous vehicles to operate on its roads. Although the Freightliner Inspiration has passed all safety checks there are limitations that make sure a human driver is still needed. In emergency situations, for instance, the driver is alerted to take the wheel. And the truck won’t pass a slower vehicle ahead. The autonomous function is also limited exclusively to highway use. So don’t expect to be passed by a Skynet operated 18-wheeler on Highway 7 anytime soon.
Currently, there are only two functional Freightliner Inspirations in the fleet. The autonomous semi takes employs a slew of “highly sophisticated” camera and radar systems to safely negotiate traffic, terrain and road conditions. For the full scoop on the safety technology behind the Freightiner Inspiration check out their site, here.
This is a huge sign of things to come in the foreseeable future. If you haven’t already read it, our very own Paul Williams explores the implications of the rise of the machines in his “Autonomous Cars Will Change Everything” piece here. It’s worth a read.
As I know our readers love everything about autos, including actually driving them, I’m curious as to what you think of this development. Are some of you looking forward to not having to drive your car during rush hour gridlock and sitting back and catching up on Game of Thrones while sitting on the Don Valley? Are some of you getting flashbacks to Maximum Overdrive – the movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel starring the excellent Emilio Estevez where a fleet of semi-trucks rises up to commit brutal murders. This would probably be a great movie to put on for any truckers cruising down the Nevada highway in one of these Freightliners today. Let us know.