Autonomous cars have been touted as the future of transportation for quite some time, and a few companies have gotten very close to working versions. But on July 4th, Mercedes Benz revealed the best use for this technology yet in their cleverly named "Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025." That's right folks, the future of trucking is autonomous, and I welcome it with open arms.
The truck has an "extremely intelligent Highway Pilot assistance system" that allows for completely autonomous driving up to 85 kph (about 52 mph). The truck drove itself in realistic driving conditions on a stretch of the A14 Autobahn, and performed admirably.
The idea of autonomous trucks makes all of the sense in the world. Almost everyone wins in this scenario, which is why this will be widely embraced. Companies will love that the time it takes for goods to reach their destination will be cut drastically, because autonomous trucks will be able to drive through the night. The shipments will become much more secure, as the routes can be pre-programmed, and weigh-ins at the scales may be able to become a thing of the past. Fuel economy can be improved drastically, because the trucks can be set at their most efficient speed for the duration of the trip. But the most important aspect of a future with autonomous trucks is what it means for us, the people that share roads with them.
Trucks will never, ever, ever need to venture outside of the right lane, ever again.
Let that sink in. We have all been stuck behind two trucks going the exact same speed for miles and miles because one truck driver thinks he needs to pass the other due to his closing speed of one mile per hour. He moves into the left lane, and then alas, a hill! Both trucks are now going 20 mph below the speed limit, and the flow of traffic slows drastically, sometimes to a halt.
But with autonomous trucks like the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, that will become a thing of the past. Trucks could all go the same speed in the future, which would mean they would never have a need to pass another truck. Computers are better at being patient than a human, and this is an instance where patience is a virtue. Trucks wouldn't need to go faster than 55 mph, because they would be able to drive through the night.
As for the truckers themselves? Well, someone will probably need to be on board to put gas in them and monitor systems in case of an issue, but their time will be freed up to pass time in their favorite ways. My guess is needlepoint. Everybody wins. As Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, the man responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses said, "The truck of the future is a Mercedes-Benz that drives itself."
See the release video for the "Mercedes-Benz Truck of the Future 2025" below: