HANOVER, Germany. In the summer of 2014, Daimler Trucks unveiled Future Truck 2025, which in many ways ushered in a new era of trucking.
After demonstrating a self-driving truck on a closed stretch of the Autobahn that July, the company used the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in the fall to display a sleek, modern design for that Mercedes-Benz concept truck.
I attended both events that year and was among those left feeling that while Daimler had successfully created an attention-grabbing vehicle, there remained many questions about how "real" any of what we were seeing really was.
Fast forward to 2018, and it seems Daimler is on its way to proving skeptics like myself wrong.
"The future is here," declared Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, during a media event on Sept. 18, one day ahead of the start of the 2018 IAA show.
Buchner made the comment as he emerged from the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, which he said incorporates numerous features from the conceptual Future Truck.
The Actros, which is basically the European equivalent of the Freightliner Cascadia, included several “world premieres.” That is important for North American trucking fleets because anything debuting at IAA is likely coming to North America in the near future.
The new Actros includes active drive assist, which "gives the driver access to semi-automated driving at all speeds for the first time in a series production truck," Daimler said. It can apply full emergency braking up to a speed of about 32 mph.
This supports all drivers, "especially on monotonous, long-distance roads and [in] annoying traffic jams," Buchner said. Additionally, sideguard assist technology provides visible warnings if a pedestrian or cyclist is in a blind spot.
Another new feature is MirrorCam, based on concepts first seen on the Future Truck. The system, which replaces traditional side mirrors, offers a wider range of vision and background illumination to adjust for poor lighting.
Inside the cab, there is also a multimedia cockpit display aimed at simplifying the business and infotainment options a truck driver often accesses while in motion. That, too, is based on systems first shown in the Future Truck.
While the new Actros is a more traditional cabover design for the European market, the electric eActros also on display is similar to that sleek Future Truck shown back in 2014. It was another example of how those four-year old concepts are becoming a reality.
Daimler’s pre-IAA event, attended by 500 journalists from 45 countries, included various electrification and connectivity advancements for its truck, van, and bus products. I will be covering these developments next week, as well as other highlights from the hundreds of other companies exhibiting at IAA.
If today’s event was any indication, it is certain to be a fascinating few days.