Automated Driving at Daimler Trucks

Daimler Trucks is the pioneer of automated driving and has a clear roadmap to the fully automated truck. The goal is to make roads safer and help trucking companies boost productivity.

In 2014, Daimler Trucks presented the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world’s first automated truck, and was the first to demonstrate the technological opportunities and great potential that automated trucks have for the economy and society. In 2015, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck got the first road license ever for an automated commercial vehicle.

Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Partially automated driving (level 2) already brought into series production

With Active Drive Assist (Mercedes-Benz Actros, FUSO Super Great) and Detroit Assurance 5.0 with Active Lane Assist (Freightliner new Cascadia), Daimler Trucks is already bringing partially automated driving features into series production (SAE Level 2). The new system can independently brake, accelerate and steer. Unlike systems that only work above a certain speed, Active Drive Assist / Detroit Assurance 5.0 make partially automated driving possible in all speed ranges for the driver for the first time in a series production truck. Active lateral control and the connection of longitudinal or lateral control in all speed ranges are new thanks to the fusion of radar and camera information.

Next, Daimler Trucks aims for highly automated trucks (SAE level 4). In commercial trucking, level 4 is the natural next step after level 2, increasing efficiency and productivity for customers, cutting costs per mile significantly. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Daimler Trucks announced that it will invest more than EUR 500 million (more than 570 million USD) over the next years in its global push to bring highly automated trucks to the road within a decade.

While doing that, Daimler Trucks follows three basic beliefs: First, Safety has absolute priority; everything must be 100% reliable. Second: Daimler Trucks develops products together with its customers. Third: A clear legal and regulatory framework for operation and liability is needed.

As part of its roadmap, Daimler Trucks established the Autonomous Technology Group as a global organization for automated driving, bringing together its worldwide expertise and activities. The main tasks of the new unit comprise overall strategy and implementation of the automated driving roadmap, including research and development as well as setting up the required operations infrastructure and network, heading towards the series production of highly automated trucks. Highly automated driving is characterized as automated travel between defined hubs and in defined areas without any expectation of the system that a user will respond to a request to intervene.

The U.S. company is part of Daimler Trucks and of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group of Daimler Trucks. The truck manufacturer is consolidating all its expertise and activities in autonomous driving into the global organization with locations in Blacksburg and Portland in the U.S. and in Stuttgart, Germany. Both companies complement each other perfectly, with Torc’s expertise in agile software development and Daimler Trucks’ experience in delivering reliable and safe truck hardware. Torc Robotics will remain a separate entity and retain its name, team, existing customers and facilities in Blacksburg. Torc is one of the world’s most experienced companies in the field of autonomous driving – with highly sophisticated, roadworthy technology and years of expertise with heavy-duty commercial vehicles. “Asimov”, Torc’s system for autonomous driving, has been proven in urban and long-distance routes as well as in rain, snow, fog and varying light conditions.

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) will focus on further evolving automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks. The DTNA team is working on a truck chassis perfectly suited for automated driving, particularly the redundancy of systems needed to provide the maximum level of reliability and the maximum level of safety. Within the Autonomous Technology Group, DTNA is also building the infrastructure required for the operational testing. This consists of a main control center and logistics hubs. These hubs are located near customers of Daimler Trucks and within close proximity of interstates and highways. Conventionally driven trucks will perform the pickup and delivery of goods, while the automated trucks operate the hub-to-hub portion of the route.

Highly automated trucks (level 4) offer enormous advantages in many areas. In today’s society, there is a growing desire for safer roads and more sustainable transport solutions – and level 4 trucks can considerably contribute to that. They enhance safety in traffic thanks to a redundancy of systems and a multitude of sensors and systems that never get tired or lose attention – because today, a great majority of accidents are still due to human error. Level 4 highly automated trucks also improve efficiency and productivity, among other things, through higher utilization of the vehicles – practically around the clock. They also make it possible to travel during light traffic times, for example at night, and thus avoid traffic jams by intelligent route management. This has positive effects for truck customers and for the entire economy: the competitiveness of an economy is strongly correlated with the efficiency of logistics. This aspect becomes more and more relevant as global road freight volume is expected to more than double between 2015 and 2050.

Moving forward with its innovation roadmap, Daimler Trucks is reassessing its view on platooning. Daimler Trucks defines platooning as the electronic coupling of two or more trucks with significantly reduced distance between them to, in theory, improve aerodynamics and therefore save fuel. Daimler Trucks has tested platooning for several years, especially in the U.S., where benefits would be expected to be the most substantial. Results show that fuel savings, even in perfect platooning conditions, are less than expected and that those savings are further diminished when the platoon gets disconnected and the trucks must accelerate to reconnect. At least for U.S. long-distance applications, analysis currently shows no business case for customers driving platoons with new, highly aerodynamic trucks. Daimler Trucks will, of course, remain committed to all partner projects that are still ongoing.

The SAE J3016 standard details the classification and defines the varying levels of automation. It was published by SAE International (formerly: Society of Automotive Engineers) and has served to define the industry-wide standard since January 2014. (Source can be found here)

Level 0: manual driving
All driving maneuvers are performed by the driver. May include support of warning or assistance systems.

Level 1: assisted driving
The driving automation system (while engaged) performs part of the dynamic driving task; either the longitudinal or the lateral vehicle motion control subtask. It disengages immediately upon driver request

Lateral vehicle motion control includes maintaining set speed as well as detecting a preceding vehicle in the path of the subject vehicle, maintaining an appropriate gap to the preceding vehicle and applying propulsion or braking inputs to cause the vehicle to maintain that speed or gap.

Longitudinal vehicle motion control via acceleration and deceleration (operational) which includes the detection of the vehicle positioning relative to lane boundaries and application of steering and/or differential braking inputs to maintain appropriate lateral positioning.

Only in defined scenarios are drivers supported by driver assistance systems (e.g. lane-keeping).

The driver continuously monitors the system and takes over the delegated tasks again, if required.

Level 2: partially automated driving
Only in suitable scenarios, the system performs part of the dynamic driving task; driving the vehicle laterally and longitudinally. It disengages immediately upon driver request.

The driver continuously monitors the system and takes over the delegated tasks again, if required.

Level 3: conditionally automated driving
Only in suitable scenarios, the system performs the entire dynamic driving task. It disengages immediately upon driver request.

The driver no longer has to continuously monitor the system and can deal with activities not related to driving.

If the system sends a takeover prompt to the driver, the driver must take over again in a suitable manner in a short period of time.

Level 4: highly automated driving
Only in suitable scenarios, the system performs the entire dynamic driving task. It disengages, if appropriate, if a driver takes over.

In these scenarios, the vehicle does not send a takeover prompt to a driver / user as it can handle the scenario completely.

Level 5: fully automated driving
The fully automated driving system can drive on all mapped roads that are navigable by a human driver. The user simply inputs a destination, and the vehicle automatically navigates to that destination.

The system can handle all scenarios independently and performs the entire dynamic driving task. It disengages, if appropriate, if a driver takes over.

We use cookies

We want to make our website more user-friendly and continuously improve it. If you continue to use the website, you agree to the use of cookies.