Think of the most dangerous-looking thing you could see while cruising down the highway…
A reckless speed demon barreling along at 95 mph?
Someone texting or fixing their makeup while behind the wheel?
Incredibly, my colleague Chris Worthington just told me that he saw someone reading the newspaper while driving on a local interstate! No wonder Maryland boasts some of the country’s worst drivers, according to Allstate analysis.
But how about a truck with no driver? Pretty terrifying, right?
Well, not as much as you might think…
430 Horses… And No Driver
On a busy stretch of public highway in Stuttgart, Germany, Daimler (DDAIY) recently debuted what it called a “world premiere.”
The world’s first autonomous truck.
Well, semi-autonomous, to be exact.
In the latest example of advances in driverless vehicle technology, the company’s Actros truck recently became the first in the world to cruise on auto-pilot.
And it was no soft test, either – the 430-horsepower beast did so at speeds of up to 80 mph.
Having gained permission from authorities in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region – and with state Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann riding shotgun – Daimler had a police escort for its trial that showcased highly intelligent technology.
While cameras, sensors, and radar are obvious requirements for self-driving vehicles, those features alone aren’t enough, given that each journey is unique and can be unpredictable. The technology needs to interact with the driver by way of a backup.
Daimler’s technology does that.
For example, it doesn’t just sense treacherous road or weather conditions… it reacts to them and prompts the driver to resume control. Better yet… if the driver doesn’t respond, the truck will automatically come to a halt.
With Daimler’s Head of Trucks and Buses, Wolfgang Bernhard, behind the wheel, he demonstrates, “I can take my hands off the wheel and as you can see, the steering is smooth and the vehicle remains on track.”
You can see it right here…
No Hands… And No Barriers?
As with any new technology, though, there are certain key barriers to overcome before it becomes mainstream.
One is consumer interest and adoption. Another is government approval.
But in both cases, Daimler is making swift progress. As Bernhard notes, “Clients are very interested. The public is interested, too. And contrary to our expectations, politicians are also ready to set the framework conditions a lot more quickly. So we are very happy about the progress and it makes us confident that we can enter the series production rather sooner than later.”
We believe he’s right. If you’re a regular Wall Street Daily and Digital Fortunes reader, you’ll know that we’re bullish on driverless vehicle technology, too. And far from just paying it lip service, we put our money where our mouth is.
Right now, our Digital Fortunes portfolio includes the preeminent company whose technology is critical to making it happen. In fact, we’ve already taken a 50% profit on the stock and are back in it again for a second round of gains. To get its name – plus the other 14 tech companies in the portfolio – make sure you’re on board with us at Digital Fortunes.