HANNOVER, Germany. With Daimler Truck's Wolfgang Bernhard behind the wheel, the self-driving Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 made a dramatic entry rolling into an airport hanger here for its introduction at an international press conference. The concept truck integrates a range of new and existing technologies to create a heavy truck capable of fully autonomous operation from a full stop up to highway speeds.
Already run in tests on a German highway, Future Truck 2025 combines “art and engineering,” Bernhard said. Technical highlights include a combination of radar and cameras that create full forward and side sensing of both moving and stopped objects. Tying those integrated sensors into the steering, engine and braking systems creates a truck “that always knows what’s in front and on the side and knows how to respond,” according to the company.
Following the art and engineering theme, the truck does away with headlight and turn signals, instead embedding LED lighting underneath the painted surface to emerge when activated. Rear view mirrors are also absent to improve aerodynamics and design appeal. Instead cameras provide full rearward and side vision over two 12-in. displays inside the cab. When in autonomous operation, the driver can swivel the seat 45 deg. away from the steering wheel to stretch out and relax. A tablet that serves as a vehicle display can then be removed from its cradle for functions such as reading, responding to email or even playing games.
Admitting that “much legal and political dialog is needed to turn [Future Truck 2025] into reality,” Bernhard said: “What we are showing here today is how the transport of goods on our roads will be running more efficiently, safer and more connected in 10 years’ time.”