Daimler Trucks establishes global organisation for highly automated driving

7 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 30, 2019

In January 2019, the new Freightliner Cascadia made its world premiere during the presentation of Daimler Trucks at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It offers partially automated driving features (level 2), making it the first-ever partially automated series production truck on North American roads.

Daimler Trucks is establishing the Autonomous Technology Group as a global organisation for automated driving, bringing together its worldwide expertise and activities, as of June 1. The main tasks of the new unit comprise overall strategy and implementation of the automated driving roadmap, including research and development as well as setting up the required operations infrastructure and network, heading towards the series production of highly automated trucks (SAE level 4).

The newly established Autonomous Technology Group is part of Daimler Trucks‘ global effort to put highly automated trucks onto the roads within a decade. To achieve this, Daimler Trucks announced an investment of more than EUR 500 million at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In commercial trucking, level 4 is the logical next step after level 2 to increase safety as well as efficiency and productivity.

“We are the pioneer for automated trucks. With the formation of our global Autonomous Technology Group, we are taking the next step, underscoring the importance of highly automated driving for Daimler Trucks, the industry and society as well,” said Martin Daum, member of the board of Daimler AG responsible for Trucks & Buses. “With the new unit, we will maximise the effectiveness of our automated driving efforts and the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology. We will therefore be in the perfect position to put highly automated driving onto the roads, making transportation safer, saving lives and helping trucking companies boost their productivity.”

In 2015, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck got the first road license ever for an automated commercial vehicle. Daimler Trucks announced at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, that it will bring highly automated trucks (SAE level 4) to the road within a decade.

Dr Peter Vaughan Schmidt, currently head of strategy Daimler Trucks, will lead this new, global and cross-divisional organisation. Schmidt has 15 years of experience in the industry and in his previous position was responsible for the development of Daimler Trucks‘ strategy on automated vehicles.

“With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking,” said Schmidt. “In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the U.S.A. In doing so, we will work closely together with customers whose business matches this automated driving application. We will not only develop the respective technology but also set up the required operations infrastructure and network.”

Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, said DTNA was excited to have its automated driving efforts backed by the Autonomous Technology Group.

“This new global organisation will enable us to even stronger evolve the technology for highly automated driving and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks at our Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland. We‘re fully committed to demonstrating the enormous advantages of highly automated driving first here in the U.S.A.”

Software development for highly automated driving will be one of the key activities of the Autonomous Technology Group. Another will be the so-called vehicle project: on the one hand, the vehicle project will be responsible for the redundancy in the chassis enabling the vehicle‘s systems to take over roles of a professional driver while on the road, providing the highest safety. On the other hand, the vehicle project will take care of the automated driving sensor kit integration (camera, lidar, radar), which – together with a very accurate map – is responsible for ensuring that the highly automated truck finds its own way on the road. The operations infrastructure and network to be set up by the group – another key activity – will consist of one main vehicle control centre as well as additional stations at logistics hubs.

The Blacksburg-based company Torc Robotics will be part of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group, pending the authorities‘ approval of the acquisition recently announced by Daimler Trucks.

The Autonomous Technology Group has a global reach, with experts working in various locations throughout the company‘s worldwide development network. The Blacksburg-based company Torc Robotics will be part of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group, pending the authorities‘ approval of the acquisition recently announced by Daimler Trucks. Both companies complement each other perfectly, with Torc‘s expertise in agile software development and Daimler Trucks‘ experience in delivering reliable and safe truck hardware.

Daimler Trucks will continue to work very closely on automated vehicle technology across Daimler, including joint activities with passenger cars, for leveraging synergies. At the same time, truck specifications require own development activities due to the entirely different nature of the system (one-box vs. articulated) and focus on highway goods transportation vs. inner-city passenger transportation.

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