Daimler's Self-Driving Semi Truck Hits The Road This Year

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The company also wants trucks with Level 4 autonomous technology on the road within the next decade.

While we're still waiting for more details about the Tesla Semi truck, Daimler will be launching a new self-driving semi-truck later this year. Announced at CES, the new Freightliner Cascadia will be the first series production truck in North America to offer Level 2 autonomy. The new system makes partially automated driving possible in all speed ranges, using onboard radar and cameras that enable the big rig to independently brake, accelerate and steer.

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The new Cascadia also features an aerodynamic design that Daimler claims creates a 35 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the first Cascadia introduced in 2007. This equates to annual savings of up to 4,700 gallons of fuel per truck, which is the amount of fuel consumed by six typical family cars in a year. Aerodynamic enhancements include Aerodynamic Height Control, which electronically lowers the suspension height at 55 mph to optimize airflow over and under the front of the truck and reduce drag. Other enhancements include Michelin X Line D+ Energy tires developed in collaboration with Michelin and a low ground clearance bumper.

Daimler Daimler Daimler

For now, the new Freightliner Cascadia will only offer Level 2 autonomy, but Daimler is investing around $570 million into Level 4 self-driving technology to get fully autonomous trucks on the road within the next decade. Daimler says the technology will improve safety, efficiency and productivity. The company is skipping the development of Level 3 systems because it believes it will not offer truck customers a significant advantage over the current technology.

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