LAS VEGAS — What happens in Las Vegas is supposed to stay in Las Vegas, but that’s certainly not the case with Daimler Trucks’ recently introduced Inspiration Truck. It’s the autonomous commercial vehicle that has taken the world by storm. Literally.
Daimler Trucks invited more than 200 journalists from four continents to cover the event, and stories have appeared in over 500 newspapers and on TV news shows all over the globe. Today’s Trucking was there too, of course. And we had our chance to ride in the truck. We were not allowed to drive it at this event because it requires some driver certification, which there wasn’t time to procure.
We did come back from the launch event with this video of our test drive, with Equipment Editor Jim Park in the right-hand seat.
The truck itself is a more or less standard Cascadia with a DD15 engine and DT12 Transmission. The interior was done up in rather extravagant while leather, hardwood floors and blue accent lighting. One can forgive the company for going a little over the top; the overall achievement really is extraordinary.
Window dressing aside, the truck is a remarkable bit of technology that combines existing hardware and some very advanced control algorithms to steer and gear this truck without any manual control input from the driver.
But as you’ll see, the Inspiration Truck is certainly not a “driverless truck” at this point; it’s stepping stone toward a suite of technologies that will eventually allow autonomous or semi-autonomous control of trucks under certain conditions. There is a lot of potential in such a system, but it will be several years before systems like Highway Pilot could become commercially viable.
At the pace technology changes, who knows how much more sophisticated the system will be by then.