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Posted on: Oct, 20, 2015

We have been hearing a lot about self-driving cars in the news lately. Even Google is getting into the fray to create the first autonomous vehicle. But while all the hype has been going to the cars, Daimler was quietly testing the world’s first series-production self-driving truck on the highway under real traffic conditions.

So what does the first self-driving truck have? It comes equipped with smart systems that include radar, cameras and active speed regulators. While it works on its own, someone does need to be in the driver’s seat to take the wheel, should that become necessary. It wasn’t necessary during the test drive. Fitted with the intelligent “Highway Pilot” system, the vehicle travelled about nine miles with a driver in the cabin, but no hands on the wheel.

Are self-driving vehicles safe? One way to look at this new innovation is to compare it to a plane’s autopilot. While the plane generally steers itself, accounts for changes in air pressure and other considerations, the pilots are still in the cockpit, ready to make manual adjustments if necessary. This is a more comfortable way of considering a self-driving vehicle, considering a self-driving Jeep was hacked during its test run, prompting a recall of many vehicles to patch up the software.

While the self-driving craze isn’t going away any time soon, the invention highlights just how much there is to innovate in the automotive industry. From the world’s first aluminum truck to the first autonomous truck, there are innovations to be found both in the composite materials used to create a vehicle, the intricate parts designed to make them work more effectively and the software that runs them.

Why not jump in and see what you can create? Innovation and prototyping will continue to drive this industry forward at lightspeed.


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