Several companies, Google among them, have recently been experimenting with self-driving cars, but Mercedes is reportedly taking the concept one step further. According to an article originally published by CNN, the German automaker is in the process of building a self-driving 18-wheeler, and the development might be closer to fruition than you think.
In fact, Mercedes recently put its self-driving semi-truck to the test on a German Autobahn – albeit, for only a three-mile span of road. During those three miles, the driver of the truck did not so much as glance at the road or put his hands on the steering wheel. Instead, he was busy looking up food recipes on his tablet. No one was hurt in the test drive.
The success of the test may make it seem like Mercedes is ready to put the self-driven truck into mass production immediately, but there will undoubtedly be years of testing before the so-called “Future Truck 2025” sees the light of day around the world. Still, when the development finally makes its way to mainstream use, it could save lives, protect cargo, and prevent accidents. The system, which keeps an eye on the road with cameras and radar sensors, could make it so that human-caused errors in truck driving are a thing of the past.
In addition to protecting truck drivers and other traffic, the Mercedes self-driving 18-wheeler could also protect the environment. Supposedly, the vehicle would have better fuel economy than current, gas-guzzling semi trailers, because the computer system in control of the truck would allow for more calculated fuel usage.
As the “Future Truck 2025” designation implies, Mercedes probably will not start marketing the truck to cargo transportation companies for a decade still. However, knowing its on the horizon is at very least a boon for driver peace of mind.