Daimler Truck testing electric, autonomous eCascadia

In News, Daimler4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 10, 2024

Daimler Truck has added autonomous driving technology to its Class 8 electric eCascadia, as part of its vision of zero emissions and increased road safety.

The truck is based on a production battery electric Freightliner eCascadia and is equipped with Torc’s autonomous driving software and the latest Level 4 sensor and compute technology.

While still a research and advanced engineering project, the autonomous vehicle has the potential to evolve into a modular, scalable platform that is propulsion agnostic for flexible use in different trucking applications.

Daimler Truck said the goal is to offer customers a choice of the right vehicles for their specific business and transportation needs.

“By combining zero-emission and autonomous technologies in one product, we are testing solutions for challenges our customers are likely to face in the future,” said John O’Leary, president and CEO of Daimler Truck North America.

“We want to give them choices that allow them to do what they do best: keep the world moving today and well into the future. That takes a lot of foresight, questioning, testing, learning, improving and co-creating with our customers years in advance to ultimately find the right solution. This truck is a great example of the beginning of that development process.”

Joanna Buttler, Head of Global Autonomous Technology Group at Daimler Truck, added: “Together with Torc, we are making significant progress towards introducing autonomous trucks in the U.S. by 2027. While we target autonomous trucks with conventional propulsion technology for this first market launch, we always look further into the future.

“We will employ an iterative approach to the development, testing and optimization of autonomous-electric technology, while exploring the most promising use cases in collaboration with our fleet customers.”

The autonomous eCascadia demonstrator provides a glimpse of future autonomous use cases, including shorter, repeatable routes with the use of zero-emissions infrastructure. Depending on the application, future autonomous trucks could also be powered by hydrogen-based propulsion technologies.

In the currently tested hub-to-hub application, the truck’s intent is to drive autonomously between freight centers along U.S. highway corridors. By identifying synergies between zero emissions and autonomous infrastructure in a future scenario, the charging infrastructure and autonomous freight hubs could be combined to charge and load simultaneously, further enhancing efficiency for carriers.

The autonomous eCascadia technology demonstrator is designed with many commonalities with the production eCascadia, leveraging synergies in the development process, streamlining engineering processes and increasing customer value through ease of serviceability as customers may already be familiar with the battery electric Cascadia.

Technical specifications

The battery electric Freightliner eCascadia went into production in 2022 and has now reached more than 9 million real-world kilometres across 55 fleets in the United States. The zero-emission Class 8 truck is designed to provide optimal productivity for fleets looking to transition to efficient, zero-emission tractors.

The battery can be recharged to 80% capacity in 90 minutes. Several battery and drive axle options are available, providing a typical range of 250, 350 or 370 kilometres, depending on the specific configuration. The Freightliner eCascadia is equipped with the proprietary Detroit ePowertrain and comes standard with the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems, including Active Brake Assist 5.