Daimler Trucks North America introduced its new autonomous Freightliner Inspiration Truck Tuesday night at Hoover Dam, using the historic dam as the world's largest projection screen in its dramatic premier.
The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States. The technology has the potential to reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, cut highway congestion, and safeguard the environment, according to the company.
The Hoover Dam was selected for the unveiling because it represents America’s ability to dream big and accomplish amazing things, even in the midst of adversity. Built during the Great Depression under harsh conditions, it took fewer than five years to complete. The largest dam of its time, the Hoover Dam still stands as an engineering marvel eight decades later. The Inspiration Truck drove on top of the dam, presenting itself to the world, while the dam was used as an emotional large-scale projection surface.
This projection – at 1.17 million lumens – earned Freightliner the Guinness World Record of highest light output projection ever.
"America and Freightliner share the same values, the same DNA," said Wolfgang Bernhard chief of Daimler Trucks and Buses, "a can-do attitude … that anything is possible, that's our common spirit. This spirit has changed the world many times over. 120 year ago the first automobile hit the road and the world become more mobile … 44 yeas ago the first microprocessor was plugged in and the world became smarter…. 24 years ago the first web browser went live and the world became more connected. Tonight we combine all of these know-hows, the vehicle, the hip, the networking, into another historical moment."
Based on a series production Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck is equipped with the Highway Pilot sensors and computer hardware. The Highway Pilot links together a sophisticated set of camera technology and radar systems with lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering and other monitoring systems.
The Freightliner Inspiration Truck operates on highways at what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines as Level 3 of autonomous vehicle capabilities, enabling the driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions. The autonomous vehicle system is responsible for maintaining legal speed, staying in the selected lane, keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles, and slowing or stopping the vehicle based on traffic and road conditions. The vehicle monitors changes in conditions that require transition back to driver control when necessary in highway settings. The driver is in control of the vehicle for exiting the highway, on local roads and in docking for making deliveries.
After displaying Freightliner milestones from the 1942 "shovelnose" to this year's SuperTruck DTNA President and CEO Martin Daum said, "Now you may ask yourself… where is the future of commercial transportation headed? Well, we have inspiration, so we'd like to show you a short movie which in our minds is the future of trucking -- One in which a driver is free to do whatever he wants but still is in complete control. Does that sound far fetched? After watching this, maybe not so much."
In July of last year, Daimler Trucks provided the world´s first demonstration of an autonomous truck in action when the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a cordoned-off section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg.
The Freightliner Inspiration Truck underwent extensive testing before the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles granted it a license to operate on public roads in the state.
There are two trucks with this equipment, and trucking industry analysts and international media will be given the chance to ride in the two trucks on public roads near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Wednesday as the vehicle operates in autonomous mode.