Big rigs need innovations like self-driving technology as soon as possible. As they shuttle goods over long distances 24/7, technologies like collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure systems and radars could significantly improve safety and reduce driver errors. These innovations are essential in a profession constantly under scrutiny for accidents, and a reputation for the long hours on the road in exchange for low pay, (which is scaring away new drivers).
Months after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Peterbilt unveiled the WAVE concept truck focused on efficiency, Mercedes has unveiled its vision of the future of trucking putting its emphasis on safety. We saw the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 in disguise back in June, but now the German automaker has revealed its creation: Hundreds of blue LED lights, with drivers tucked into their tablets, while the truck handles most of the navigation.
This truck still has a steering wheel, suggesting that even in 2025, Mercedes-Benz contemplates the need for human intervention in autonomous driving. However, the truck’s features suggest that the drivers will cede a lot of handling to radar systems, cameras and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications – all behind an advanced graphics display and touchscreens. The aim is to reduce driver errors and increase fuel economy, as the truck will anticipate traffic and road construction conditions for more efficient braking and acceleration. In addition, the truck will automatically maintain a consistent and safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
The exterior design lights up different LED colors depending on the vehicle’s actions. In autonomous driving mode, the LEDs switch from white to a pulsating blue. When a turn signal is activated, the LEDs switch to a flashing orange. The interior looks more like an executive office space than a truck cabin interior: it incorporates touch-screen interfaces and a reclining – rotating office chair for the seat.
Mercedes-Benz claims that this technology will be viable in a decade. However, there are still questions about how long it could take for regulatory measures to be put in place. The technology advertised here would require significant investment in infrastructure to allow the truck to detect traffic conditions and construction well ahead of time as well.
No word has been said yet about how much a truck like this would cost either, but it’s safe to say something as decked-out with the latest connected and autonomous driving technology would be out of reach for most independent owner-operators.