While most manufacturers are racing to build the first fully-autonomous passenger vehicle, Daimler is already thinking of making semi-autonomous trucks together with Waymo. We’re not talking about small commercial trucks too. Instead, these are full-size semi-trucks fitted with Level 4 autonomous driving technology.
To some, the idea of a fully-loaded self-driving semi-truck driving the highway isn’t a comfortable one...yet. Daimler and Waymo have only announced the partnership, and have not released a timetable as to when we might see self-driving semi-trucks on the road or when a prototype will debut.
For now, neither company has released specific details about the partnership apart from developing Level 4 autonomous semi-trucks. However, they did say will start rolling them out first in the US. Specifically, they will be using Waymo’s autonomous driving technology and introduce into specially designed Freightliner Cascadia trucks. For reference, the American truck manufacturer is part of the Daimler family. At the moment, it is uncertain whether the rollout will be expanded into other locations in the future.
As mentioned earlier, these trucks are not fully autonomous. With Level 4 autonomy, a driver is still required in the vehicle for the occasional intervention. However, most of the driving will be done by computers. For reference, Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s supercruise system are only rated at Level 2. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz claims the new S-Class with self-driving tech is rated for Level 3 automation.
Given that most manufacturers have yet to break Level 2 yet, self-driving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are likely to be years away. At the same time, they still have numerous legal barriers to deal with before they can be implemented fully.
What do you think of the idea of self-driving commercial vehicles? Let us know in the comments.