Introducing the world's first self-driving truck

The truck is also street legal, having been officially granted one of Nevada’s “Autonomous Vehicle” license plates (the first ever issued for a commercial truck) by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at a media event before the truck was officially unveiled.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck in action

Truck maker, Freightliner, yesterday unveiled the Inspiration Truck – a partially autonomous truck that could save lives, mitigate driver fatigue and stress, and reduce CO2 emissions up to 5 percent.

Daimler, which owns Freightliner, says it has done over 10,000 miles of testing on the massive vehicle. The truck is also street legal, having been officially granted one of Nevada’s “Autonomous Vehicle” license plates (the first ever issued for a commercial truck) by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at a media event before the truck was officially unveiled.

The Inspiration Truck and the “Highway Pilot” technology that comes with it are not meant to replace the drivers completely.  Instead, it is meant to help with the problem of fatigued driving, something that is common among drivers who have to pull long shifts.

According to Daimler, one out of every eight truck crashes are a direct result of driver fatigue, and 90 percent of said crashes are a result of driver error.

"We measured brain activity with or without autonomous function, and it clearly shows that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25 percent when the truck is operating in autonomous mode," said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler’s truck boss.

As with other self-driving cars, one of the issues surrounding the truck is liability – if the driver is giving control to an automated system, where does the blame get placed if something goes wrong?

Comparing it to the control a pilot has over a commercial airplane, Bernhard said, "Technically speaking these vehicles are operating 'partly automated, so [the driver] is still in charge of what happens. He’s responsible."

President and CEO of Daimler Trucks, Martin Daum, further explained saying, "Certainly before it becomes mass production the liability question has to be discussed and has to be solved by the regulators," he said. "Ultimately it’s the people — like with any law — it’s the people that decide and the industry has to follow."

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