Autonomous vehicles will be good for more than transporting people. They'll also be great for driving freight, and the will be one of the first to do it. At a ceremony last night at the Hoover Dam, the self-driving big rig got its autonomous vehicle license place, and now it's good to go for testing on the roads of Nevada.
Like most current autonomous vehicles, the Frieghtliner can't completely drive itself. It still requires a driver to do things like get it out of the parking lot, make those characteristically harrowing 18-wheeler turns at stoplights, and keep an eye on the truck's many systems. The Freightliner's self-driving powers will take effect on the wide-open road, functioning like sort of like autopilot for a plane, or a super-charged cruise control.
In fact, the super cruise control this truck will use is already out there in Mercedes-Benz cars; sister company Freightliner just lifted and tweaked it for use in a much much bigger vehicle. And like cars using the Mercedes tech, the Freightliner doesn't require any sort of modification to the roads to function autonomously. The rig's front-facing stereoscopic 3D cameras just need to be able to see lines and signs.
While the Freightliner can't truck cargo from A to B by itself, at least not yet, it could go a very long way to alleviating the extreme fatigue that truckers can experience after manually driving mile after mile after mile of boring highway. So far there's no word as to whether or not the Frieghtliner can already transform into , or if that's a feature reserved for future models.