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Driverless vehicles: Better driving without a human driver at the wheel?

01/22/2016 | GOOD2KNOW

Safer, trouble-free travelling with autonomous trucks

Freight may be transported from A to B in various ways: by ship, by cargo plane, on rails and, of course, by truck. Especially with short and medium distances, trucks are the most flexible means of transportation: they are not bound to specific routes nor are they bound to specific departure times, loading may be varied and they are available within a short space of time – this is ideal, not only for pharmaceutical logistics. This could be so wonderful, were it not for the human factor. Human error can be the cause highway congestion or even accidents. Strictly enforced breaks cause hold ups and delay.

This could now well be coming to an end: various companies, first and foremost Daimler, are working on an autonomous truck, and they are successful. In the middle of 2014 the company sent a 40 ton truck to Eastern Friesland in Germany, where they sealed of a section of the highway. With the aid of a “Highway Pilot” this truck drove along the highway autonomously and safely at 85km/h. The driver on board was required to be prepared to interfere if the necessity arose. This is also the requirement of the “Vienna Road Traffic Agreement” of the UN, which is valid in its current form since 2014.

The driver is only on board to take over in case of emergency. The actual driving is driverless.

The following stage was driving in the actual traffic: In the autumn of 2015 the Daimler truck drove in the traffic on the A9 highway near Stuttgart for 30 minutes. This was made possible with the aid of remote radar systems as well as a front mounted stereo camera, that was used to scan the area ahead of the truck. In this way the truck is able to detect obstacles, road signs and the lane width, up to 250m ahead and a scanning range of 130 degrees. A computer correlates the data with those stored on a 3-dimensional map, steers, brakes and accelerates accordingly.

The premier was a trip on the A9 highway yet not according to international standards. In the US Daimler outdid themselves in a way: Freightliner, a subsidiary, have a permit for their “Inspiration Truck” since the summer of 2015 – there is also a driver on board for special situations.

A group of experts from research and the economy is continuing the work on this concept: they are considering a highway from Canada to Mexico: 3000 kilometers exclusively for driverless trucks. Then there wouldn’t have to be a driver on board.



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Trudi Alcott
Director Investor & Media Relations
Phone: +1 804-723-7555
E-mail: Trudi.allcott@owens-minor.com