In Germany Friday, Daimler Trucks ran a real-world test of what it says is the first series-production autonomous truck to operate on the highway.

autonomous truck

The autonomous truck, a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros, was equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot system for the test on public roads.

“Today’s premiere is a further important step towards the market maturity of autonomously driving trucks – and towards the safe, sustainable road freight transport of the future,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, the Daimler AG board member responsible for trucks and buses.”

According to the article, a combination of new technology allowed the truck to to continually observe the entire area in front of the vehicle and to take control itself in certain situations.

The test scenario goes like this:  As soon as the truck has entered the flowing traffic in the right-hand lane, it’s “Highway Pilot On,” and the system offers to take over vehicle operation. The driver can confirm at the press of a button. The Mercedes keeps to its lane and maintains the optimum distance to the vehicle in front of it. Should the distance become too small or if a vehicle cuts in front of it, the truck brakes.

When it senses the vehicle is approaching an obstacle, the automated system asks the driver to take over the vehicle.

Daimler emphasized that the Highway Pilot does not replace the driver, but supports and relieves the strain on him or her by dealing with monotonous stretches and taking care of annoying stop-and-go driving in a traffic jam. In automated mode the driver has control over the truck at all times and in tricky situations can take over driving of the vehicle again.

For the full report on how effectively the truck managed on the road, read the rest of the story here.

Image from Daimler