Self-drive ma­chines

Daim­ler con­ducts au­ton­o­mous truck test on Au­to­bahn 8

The Witness - Wheels - - TRENDS -

AT the Depart­ment of In­tel­li­gent Hy­draulics and Au­to­ma­tion at the Tam­pere Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (TUT) in Fin­land, five pro­fes­sors, 35 re­search as­sis­tants and five lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cians are cre­at­ing self-driv­ing agri­cul­tural ma­chines.

Ro­bot trucks that drive them­selves are noth­ing new, but these trails of cen­tre-linked wheel loaders, small skid­steered wheel loaders, a for­est for­warder and an agri­cul­tural trac­tor with Con­tin­u­ously Vari­able Trans­mis­sion are a world first.

Pro­fes­sor Kalevi Huh­tala said on the TUT web­site de­vel­op­ing “op­er­a­tor as­sis­tance sys­tems” will help com­pa­nies to ex­e­cute ba­sic tasks.

“The goal is to de­velop au­to­mated task ex­e­cu­tion to carry out sub-tasks in­stead of op­er­a­tors [do­ing it],” Huh­tala said.

Self-drive trucks in Ger­many

In Ger­many, Daim­ler has tested its first self-driv­ing Ac­tros truck at high­way speeds.

Dr Wolf­gang Bern­hard, the mem­ber of the Daim­ler AG Board of Man­age­ment re­spon­si­ble for Daim­ler Trucks and Buses, and Win­fried Kretschmann, min­is­ter-pres­i­dent of the state of Baden-Würt­tem­berg, pi­loted the world’s first se­ries-pro­duc­tion au­ton­o­mous truck along Au­to­bahn 8 be­tween Denk­endorf and Stuttgart.

The truck used for the pre­miere was a stan­dard MercedesBenz Ac­tros equipped with the in­tel­li­gent High­way Pi­lot sys­tem for this test of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing on public roads.

Kretschmann said par­tially au­ton­o­mous and au­ton­o­mous driv­ing show a new age of mo­bil­ity is dawn­ing.

“Au­tonomously driv­ing and net­worked ve­hi­cles im­prove the flow of traf­fic and can play a decisive role in help­ing to avoid traf­fic jams and re­liev­ing the strain on driv­ers. They also boost traf­fic safety.”

He added the more au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tests will fol­low on the state’s mo­tor­ways, ru­ral and ur­ban roads. It is also in­tended “to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of the le­gal frame­work for au­ton­o­mous driv­ing”.

Bern­hard said such safe test­ing in real world traf­fic is crit­i­cal to grow self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy to mar­ket ma­tu­rity.

As with the self-driv­ing Freigth­liner truck which Daim­ler is test­ing in Ne­vada, the ver­sion of the High­way Pi­lot in­stalled in the Ac­tros only al­lows semi-au­ton­o­mous driv­ing.

The driver still has to steer the truck on and off the high­way and past road­works.

The sys­tem in­cludes front­mounted radar and a stereo cam­era, as well as well-proven as­sis­tance sys­tems such as Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol.

The High­way Pi­lot has al­ready ab­solved around 20 000 kilo­me­tres on test routes in Ger­many and the U.S.

Ben­e­fits of ro­bot lor­ries

Bern­hard said au­ton­o­mous driv­ing has con­sid­er­able ad­van­tages for the road freight sec­tor.

“Firstly, it im­proves safety: the High­way Pi­lot sys­tem never suf­fers fa­tigue or be­comes dis­tracted — it is al­ways 100% ac­tive. A study by Daim­ler Trucks has also shown that driver fa­tigue de­creases by 25% if they are re­lieved of mo­not­o­nous lane-keep­ing and can fo­cus on other tasks.

“This will be­come pos­si­ble in fur­ther de­vel­op­ment stages of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing.

“Se­condly, au­ton­o­mous trucks im­prove ef­fi­ciency: thanks to op­ti­mum gearshift­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing, they con­sume less fuel — which in turn re­duces CO2 emis­sions.

“Daim­ler Trucks ex­pects sav­ings of up to five per­cent from this. The in­ter­na­tional con­sul­tancy Frost & Sul­li­van even es­ti­mates a re­duc­tion of around seven per­cent.

“Thirdly, au­tonomously driv­ing trucks are more at­trac­tive work­places: the driver’s abil­ity to leave a great deal of the route to the High­way Pi­lot greatly re­duces stress in the cock­pit.

“Fu­ture tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments will also make it pos­si­ble for driv­ers to turn their at­ten­tion to in­ter­est­ing side ac­tiv­i­ties — e.g. com­plet­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion on a tablet PC.”

Bern­hard said all that now re­mains is for politi­cians and gov­ern­ment bod­ies to cre­ate the nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tory frame­work for au­ton­o­mous driv­ing.

— Wheels Re­porter.

WIN­FRIED KRETSCHMANN, Min­is­ter­pres­i­dent of the state of BadenWürt­tem­berg “A new age of mo­bil­ity is dawn­ing.”

PHOTO: TAM­PERE UNIVER­SITY OF TECH­NOL­OGY

These work­ing wheels work au­tonomously in tests in Fin­land.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A driver us­ing Daim­ler’s High­way Pi­lot can com­plete doc­u­men­ta­tion while driv­ing.

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