The newly established Autonomous Technology Group is part of Daimler Trucks’ global effort to put highly automated trucks onto the roads within a decade. To achieve this, Daimler Trucks announced an investment of more than EUR €500 million at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In commercial trucking, level 4 is the logical next step after level 2 to increase safety as well as efficiency and productivity.
Maximising the effectiveness of automated driving efforts
Martin Daum, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Trucks & Buses stated: “We are the pioneer for automated trucks. With the formation of our global Autonomous Technology Group, we are taking the next step, underscoring the importance of highly automated driving for Daimler Trucks, the industry and society as well. With the new unit, we will maximise the effectiveness of our automated driving efforts and the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology. We will therefore be in the perfect position to put highly automated driving onto the roads, making transportation safer, saving lives and helping trucking companies boost their productivity.”
New dedicated executive position – U.S.A. first market for highly automated driving
Dr. Peter Vaughan Schmidt, who is currently Head of Strategy Daimler Trucks, leads this new, global and cross-divisional organisation. In this position, he will continue to report directly to Martin Daum. Schmidt has 15 years of experience in the industry and in his previous position, he has been responsible for the development of Daimler Trucks’ strategy on automated vehicles.
Schmidt tells us: “With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking. In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the USA. In doing so, we will work closely with customers whose business matches this automated driving application. We will not only develop the respective technology but also set up the required operations infrastructure and network.”
Software development, chassis redundancy, sensor kit integration and operations infrastructure
Software development for highly automated driving will be one of the key activities of the Autonomous Technology Group. Another one will be the so-called vehicle project: On the one hand, the vehicle project will be responsible for the redundancy in the chassis enabling the vehicle’s systems to take over roles of a professional driver while on the road, providing the highest safety. On the other hand, the vehicle project will take care of the automated driving sensor kit integration (camera, lidar, radar), which – together with a very accurate map – is responsible for ensuring that the highly automated truck finds its own way on the road. The operations infrastructure and network to be set up by the Autonomous Technology Group – another key activity – will consist of one main vehicle control centre as well as additional stations at logistics hubs.
Synergies across Daimler including passenger cars
Daimler Trucks continue to work very closely on automated vehicle technology across Daimler, including joint activities with passenger cars, for leveraging synergies. At the same time, truck specifications require own development activities due to the entirely different nature of the system (one-box vs. articulated) and focus on highway goods transportation vs. inner-city passenger transportation.
Daimler Trucks, the pioneer of automated trucks
Daimler Trucks is the pioneer of truck automation. In 2014, the world’s leading truck manufacturer presented the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world’s first automated truck, and was the first to demonstrate the technological opportunities and great potential that automated trucks offer the economy and society. In 2015, Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck obtained the first-ever road license for a partially automated commercial vehicle, and in the same year, the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with Highway Pilot took place on public roads.
Level 2 automated driving is already a reality at Daimler Trucks
With Active Drive Assist (Mercedes-Benz Actros, FUSO Super Great) and Detroit Assurance 5.0 with Active Lane Assist (Freightliner Cascadia), Daimler Trucks is the first manufacturer to put partially automated driving features (SAE level 2) into series production. The new system can independently brake, accelerate and steer. Unlike systems that only work above a certain speed, Active Drive Assist / Detroit Assurance 5.0 make partially automated driving possible for the driver in all speed ranges, also another first in a series-production truck. This revolutionary active lateral and longitudinal assistance package features a new state-of-the art radar and camera fusion system.