Daimler introduces robot truck concept

July 04, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
A large truck at full speed on the highway, and the driver is reading newspaper? What in the past was a certain recipe for a horror accident could be an entirely safe reality in the future. Carmaker Daimler has introduced a concept called "Future Truck 2025" that calls for autonomous freight traffic on the road within ten years. A test vehicle, the Mercedes Future Truck 2025, already operates on a section of German Autobahn A14 at full speed of 80 kmph.

The Future Truck 2025 is a near-series study based on existing semitrailer model Actros, developed within Daimler's Shaping Future Transportation initiative. The vehicle is controlled by a system Daimler calls "Highway Pilot". This system has a broad range of sensors and computing resources at its disposal. Among others, it is equipped with a radar sensor in the lower area of the front end which scans the road ahead at long and short range. The front radar has a range of range of 250 m and scans an 18-degree segment. The short-range sensor has a range of 70 m and scans a 130-degree segment. The radar sensor is the basis for the Proximity Control Assist and Emergency Braking Assist already available today. The area ahead of the truck is also scanned by a stereo camera located above the dash support behind the windscreen. This is currently the location of a mono-camera if the optional Lane Keeping Assist is ordered. The range of the stereo camera is 100 m, and it scans an area of 45 degrees horizontally and 27 degrees vertically.

The stereo camera of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 identifies single- and double-lanes, pedestrians, moving and stationary objects, all objects within the monitored area and also the condition of the road surface. The camera recognises everything that contrasts with the background, and is therefore also able to measure clearances precisely. The front stereo camera also registers the information on traffic signs.

In addition to object and distance recognition, the stereo camera recognises lane markings as a major function for autonomous track guidance.

The road surface to the left and right of the truck is monitored by radar sensors installed in the sides. They are located on the left and right, ahead of the tractor unit's rear axle. The sensors have a range of 60 m and cover an angle of 170 degrees.

With multiple networked sensors and multisensory fusion algorithms