Freightliner did it.
If you’re one of the many who scoffed at the idea of a commercially-viable self-driving truck, or at best figured such technology was years—if not decades—away, you need to reset your expectations.
At a press event on May 5th at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway outside Las Vegas, NV, Freightliner, in conjunction with the State of Nevada and its governor, Brian Sandovall, launched the Inspiration, a new, autonomous truck. The truck is commercially viable. But more importantly, thanks to legislative steps taken by Nevada, it is completely legal to operate Nevada highways.
The Inspiration is not yet available for purchase and is still in its testing phase. But it will no longer be relegated to test-tracks and cordoned-off test roads. This truck will run in, mix with, cruise with public traffic all throughout the state of Nevada as Freightliner engineers test its capabilities and refine its operating parameters.
The conventional wisdom in the trucking world was that Europe would be the proving ground for autonomous truck technology and development. But Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks, said Nevada’s bold move prompted Freightliner to aggressively target North America as the new autonomous truck frontier.
That decision ultimately led to this event in Las Vegas today Tuesday, the single largest, and most expensive press launch in Daimler’s entire 100-plus year history.
Details on the Inspiration model are still scarce and more information will be revealed over the next day or two as the event unfolds.