Freightliner seems to have taken inspiration from Transformers’ Autobots leader Optimus Prime when designing their latest Inspiration Truck. According to The Verge, the Inspiration is “a partially autonomous big rig that could save lives, mitigate driver fatigue and stress, and reduce CO2 emissions up to 5 percent.”
Freightliner’s parent Faimler states that they have performed 10,000 miles of testing on the Inspiration. Nevada governor has even awarded the truck an official ‘Autonomous Vehicle’ license plate which makes the Inspiration the first truck to wear one.
The ‘Highway Pilot’ technology is not designed to make the truck completely-self driven. In fact, it is to assist drivers in times of fatigue especially those who work longer hours. Daimler states that 1/8th of truck crashes are a result of fatigued drivers. Daimler AG chief Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard was quoted saying, “We measured brain activity with or without autonomous function, and it clearly shows that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25 percent when the truck is operating in autonomous mode.”
Freightliner’s Inspiration, similarly to Google’s self-driving vehicles, is measured ‘level 3’ as per National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA)’s automation scale which means that the automobile has enough intelligence to take over from the driver in conditions of heavy traffic or environment-related issues. Drivers would be allowed to intervene and the transition time between self-driving and controlled driving will be convenient. Autoblog quotes Dr. Bernhad saying, “The autonomous vehicle technology we are showcasing in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck will help reduce accidents, improve fuel consumption, cut highway congestion, and safeguard the environment.”
This is really cool, as cars, trucks and other automobiles will become more self-aware and assist drivers in tough situations. While it may not be as self-aware as Optimus Prime or that awesome truck from classic television show ‘Highway Man’, it will make commutes easy especially for truck drivers on long hauls.