Mercedes-Benz parent company, Daimler, revealed its own vision of self-driving cars with the Mercedes-Benz ‚ÄúFuture Truck 2025‚ÄĚ prototype, which the company demonstrated on Thursday along a closed-off stretch of the A14 near Magdeburg in Germany, as a major step in an escalating race to develop self-driving vehicles.
The Future Truck 2025 is equipped with autonomous driving system, called Highway Pilot. The technology allows the truck to reach the outstanding speed of 53 mph, while the human driver can switch on and off the embedded system, ridding hands-free as a passenger.
‚ÄúThe Future Truck 2025 is our response to the major challenges and opportunities associated with road freight transport in the future,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, a member of Daimler‚Äôs board of management, in a statement.
‚ÄúWith the Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks is once again highlighting its pioneering role in innovative technologies and is opening up a new era in truck transport. We aim to be the number one manufacturer in this market of the future, which we believe will offer solid revenue and earnings potential,‚ÄĚ continued Bernhard.
Daimler conducted a study, which showed that between 2008 and 2025 the EU will see a 20 percent increase in freight traffic, with trucks carrying 70 percent of road freight. During this period, the European countries will experience increase of fuel prices and road tolls, as well as government regulations, what will lead to high demand for experienced drivers.
According to Mercedes cargo transport on Germany‚Äôs autobahns will expand by more than half over the next forty years without a commensurate growth of the transport network. This means that transport has to grow more efficient.
The world’s biggest truckmaker¬†¬†believes that the key to the future lies in reducing costs by means of autonomous systems, such as the Future Truck 2025, which aims at making safer, greener, and more efficient robotic trucks that are also more attractive to prospective drivers.
The similar technology has already been used by Daimler in its S-Class luxury sedans. The company, already at the forefront of German efforts to counter Google’s advances in driverless cars, unveiled the Mercedes-Benz 2014 S-Class, which retains a human behind a steering wheel but shares many of the same sensor systems and data communication platforms with the Future Truck.
‚ÄúAutomated drive is a future trend,‚ÄĚ Frank Schwope, a Hanover, Germany-based analyst at NordLB, said before Daimler staged the test drive. ‚ÄúPeople might be a little afraid at first, as with many technical innovations before they become commonplace. But ultimately, self-driving technologies will make trucks significantly safer.‚ÄĚ
However, Bernhard did not specify a possible price for Highway Pilot system, as the advanced version of the system wouldn‚Äôt be in service for another 10 years. He ruled out sharing it with competitors, as ‚Äúwe will keep the technological leap and savor it.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIf the legislative framework for autonomous driving can be created quickly, the launch of the Highway Pilot is conceivable by the middle of the next decade,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs why Daimler Trucks is committed to maintain a dialogue with government officials and authorities, and with all other parties affected by this development. We believe the chances of success are good, because autonomous driving combines the ability to achieve business and technology objectives with the creation of benefits for society and the environment.‚ÄĚ