Based on the series-produced Actros model, the three trucks are equipped with Mercedes’ Highway Pilot Connect software, which relies on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to let the rigs travel in what Daimler calls a platoon. Data about the road ahead gathered by the lead truck is constantly transferred to the two other trucks via a Wi-Fi connection, so each vehicle knows precisely when to accelerate, when to brake, and when to turn without requiring any human input. However, the driver must remain alert and focused on the road ahead.
The trucks in the platoon follow each other in 50-foot intervals, which boosts gas mileage by up to ten percent by reducing drag. CO2 emissions are also slashed by ten percent. More efficient trucks are good for the environment, and they’re beneficial for companies that make a living by transporting goods.
What are the drawbacks? What could go wrong? What will it take to have this technology fully operational in the U.S.? Will it be regulated to ensure safety and oversee any defects?
How does this development compare to the caution at NHTSA over Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB):
Developing reliable automated safety systems for commercial vehicles and trucks is a greater challenge due to the vehicles larger size and heavier weight. It’s necessary to ensure that an AEB system would not cause the vehicle to flip or lose control in the event of rapid braking. The NHTSA is expecting it will take some time to develop the required technology, and while they have granted the aforementioned petition, no defined timeline has been set in place for when the change will be implemented.