A (mostly) self-driving truck to make long-distance hauls bearable
Besides making swanky rides, Mercedes-Benz also manufactures more mundane vehicles like big rigs. Hence its new prototype, the semi-self-driving Future Truck 2025 – designed to provide a better, easier driving experience for truckers.
The Future Track is based on its award-winning Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845, with an engine that reaches 330 kW (449 hp) and a maximum torque of 2200 newton metres. Couple that with the automated 12-speed Mercedes Power Shift 3 transmission and it already looks like a pretty capable truck.
Sit back and let the truck drive
Engine aside, what makes the Future Truck special is its self-driving features. While not quite the Google self-driving car, it is rigged with enough tech to make the marathon drives truckers contend with a little bit more bearable. There are sensors to check the road ahead, scanning at both 250m and 70m ranges with 18-degree and 130-degree segments at those respective distances.
Besides sensors, there's a stereo camera with a 100m range that scans an area of 45 degrees horizontally and 27 degrees vertically. It can identify pedestrians (very important), single and double lanes, traffic signs, moving and stationary objects as well as road surface conditions. So long as it contrasts with the background, an object can be recognised by the camera. Added bonus: lane markings.
Sensors are also installed on the left and right side, with ranges of 60m covering a 170 degree angle. So the Future Truck has 'eyes and ears' not just in front but on the sides, giving it a continuous view of the area in front of and beside it.
The truck's system also has a 3D digital map, allowing it to be aware of its position and a road's course and topography.
Truckers can communicate via the onboard WLAN technology with other vehicles and send messages to other vehicles so as to be able to respond to them if needed. There are also notifcations about unusual events including emergency braking, fog lamps and hazard warning system activations.
It's not just about building a really cool truck. Mercedes-Benz sees its system as helping improve overall transport speed by allowing vehicles to communicate and share information, eventually turning road traffic into a self-learning system. This will help improve average transport speed by helping traffic flow without the need to raise the speed limit.
If that means we will have less cause to worry about really big lorries going really fast, we're definitely onboard with this one.