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Mercedes parent Daimler plans to make its trucks autonomous within a decade

Benz' parent company will roll out self-driving trucks across Freightliner and Mitsubishi within a decade.

The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler has opened a new autonomy division, with plans to make its fleet of trucks autonomous within a decade.

Daimler, which also owns Freightliner and has significant interest in Mitsubishi FUSO as part of its heavy vehicle portfolio, says its new ‘Autonomous Technology Group’ will be a global organisation. It will be tasked with the goal of making all of its trucks capable of “level four autonomy” in a short timeframe, developed alongside passenger vehicles.

‘Level four autonomy’ according to its Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) definition is a level at which a vehicle can perform all the functions to drive with computer systems alone, but still requires a driver to be present.

Benz' own Actros trucks are already capable of 'level 2' autonomy with highly advanced active cruise systems. Benz' own Actros trucks are already capable of 'level 2' autonomy with highly advanced active cruise systems.

The group has been established at a cost of €500 million and will have operations in two cities in the US (Portland and Blacksburg) as well as Stuttgart, Germany.

Daimler says it will leverage breadth of its resources to develop autonomous tech alongside its passenger car divisions like Mercedes-Benz. The brand says the division needs to be truck-focused due to the specialised nature of heavy vehicles (such as the difference between one-box and articulated).

Daimler’s divisions already produce trucks capable of level two autonomy, where the vehicle’s computer is capable of controlling most of the driving experience, requiring only prompts and emergency intervention from the driver (essentially an advanced active cruise control system).

Mercedes-Benz calls this technology ‘Active Drive Assist’ which is already fitted to its Actros range of trucks, and debuted on its passenger cars in 2016 on the current-generation E-Class sedan.

The tech has already spilled across to Daimler’s group brands, with the Mitsubishi FUSO Super Great having been fitted with Active Drive Assist, and the Freightliner Cascadia fitted with its own version of the tech, dubbed ‘Detroit Assurance 5.0’.

Daimler's extensive connections will have Europe, the US, and even Japan covered with trucks like the FUSO Super Great. Daimler's extensive connections will have Europe, the US, and even Japan covered with trucks like the FUSO Super Great.

The Mercedes-Benz Actros was the first truck in the world to be allowed to drive on public roads with partial automation.

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