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Daimler Trucks invests half a billion Euros in highly automated trucks


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Daimler Press Release  /  January 7, 2019

  • World premiere of the new Freightliner Cascadia with partially automated driving features (level 2)
  • Start of series development of highly automated driving (level 4), enabling automated driving mode on specific routes without required user intervention
  • Increasing safety, boosting transportation performance and significantly cutting costs per mile
  • New R&D center for automated trucks fosters knowledge transfer for accelerated speed of innovation
  • Martin Daum: “As a leader of our industry, we’ve been pioneering automated trucking. In 2015, our Freightliner Inspiration Truck got the first road license ever for an automated commercial vehicle. Now we take automated trucking to the next level: we’re ready to launch the first partially automated new Freightliner Cascadia in 2019 – and next, we tackle highly automated trucks. Highly automated trucks will improve safety, boost the performance of logistics and offer a great value proposition to our customers – and thus contribute considerably to a sustainable future of transportation.”

Stuttgart / Las Vegas. Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Daimler Trucks announced that it will invest EUR 500 million (around 570 million USD) over the next years and create more than 200 new jobs in its global push to bring highly automated trucks (SAE level 4) to the road within a decade. Highly automated driving is characterized as automated travel in defined areas and between defined hubs without any expectation of the system that a user will respond to a request to intervene. In commercial trucking, level 4 is the natural next step after level 2, increasing efficiency and productivity for customers, cutting costs per mile significantly. In doing so, Daimler Trucks is skipping the intermediate step of conditionally automated driving (level 3). Level 3 automated driving does not offer truck customers a substantial advantage compared to the current situation as there are no corresponding benefits to compensate for the technology costs.

The new Freightliner Cascadia offers partially automated driving features (level 2), making it the first-ever partially automated series production truck on North American roads. It also made its world premiere during today’s presentation of Daimler Trucks at CES.

Daimler Trucks has been a pioneer of automated truck development for years. In 2014, the world’s leading truck manufacturer presented the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world’s first automated truck, and was the first to demonstrate the technological opportunities and great potential that automated trucks have for the economy and society.

Martin Daum, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Daimler Trucks & Buses: “As a leader of our industry, we’ve been pioneering automated trucking. In 2015, our Freightliner Inspiration Truck got the first road license ever for an automated commercial vehicle. Now we take automated trucking to the next level: we’re ready to launch the first partially automated new Freightliner Cascadia in 2019 – and next, we tackle highly automated trucks. Highly automated trucks will improve safety, boost the performance of logistics and offer a great value proposition to our customers – and thus contribute considerably to a sustainable future of transportation.”

Level 2 automated driving now a reality in the new Freightliner Cascadia

With Active Drive Assist (Mercedes-Benz Actros, FUSO Super Great) and Detroit Assurance 5.0 with Active Lane Assist (Freightliner new Cascadia), Daimler Trucks is already bringing partially automated driving features into series production. The new system can independently brake, accelerate and steer. Unlike systems that only work above a certain speed, Active Drive Assist / Detroit Assurance 5.0 make partially automated driving possible in all speed ranges for the driver for the first time in a series production truck. Active lateral control and the connection of longitudinal or lateral control in all speed ranges are new thanks to the fusion of radar and camera information.

Daimler Trucks reassessing the benefits of platooning

Moving forward with its innovation roadmap, Daimler Trucks is reassessing its view on platooning. Daimler Trucks defines platooning as the electronic coupling of two or more trucks with significantly reduced distance between them to, in theory, improve aerodynamics and therefore save fuel. Daimler Trucks has tested platooning for several years, especially in the U.S., where benefits would be expected to be the most substantial. Results show that fuel savings, even in perfect platooning conditions, are less than expected and that those savings are further diminished when the platoon gets disconnected and the trucks must accelerate to reconnect. At least for U.S. long-distance applications, analysis currently shows no business case for customers driving platoons with new, highly aerodynamic trucks. Daimler Trucks will, of course, remain committed to all partner projects that are still ongoing.

Level 4 automated driving improves safety, efficiency and competitiveness

Highly automated trucks (level 4) offer enormous advantages in many areas. In today’s society, there is a growing desire for safer roads and more sustainable transport solutions – and level 4 trucks can considerably contribute to that. They enhance safety in traffic thanks to a redundancy of systems and a multitude of sensors and systems that never get tired or lose attention – because today, a great majority of accidents are still due to human error. Level 4 highly automated trucks also improve efficiency and productivity, among other things, through higher utilization of the vehicles – practically around the clock. They also make it possible to travel during light traffic times, for example at night, and thus avoid traffic jams by intelligent route management. This has positive effects for truck customers and for the entire economy: the competitiveness of an economy is strongly correlated with the efficiency of logistics. This aspect becomes more and more relevant as global road freight volume is expected to more than double between 2015 and 2050.

200 new jobs for engineers or robotics specialists with IT and programming skills

Daimler Trucks is creating 200 new jobs in the area of highly automated driving (level 4). The newly created positions and roles are to be filled primarily by mechatronics engineers or robotics specialists with IT and programming skills. The main location is Daimler Trucks & Buses new Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland (Oregon, U.S.). The center’s experts are dedicated to all aspects of developing, testing and validating automated vehicles. In addition, the engineers in Portland work in close cooperation with their colleagues in the research and development centers at Daimler Trucks locations in Stuttgart (Germany) and Bangalore (India), thus forming a global network. Interested talents can apply at https://daimler-trucksnorthamerica.com/lead/ or directly to innovateDTNA@daimler.com.

Requirements for highly automated driving of cars and trucks differ considerably

A crucial success factor for the development of a safe and reliable level 4 highly automated truck is a closely coordinated system of engineering and technology development. Daimler Trucks uses the extensive knowledge from many years of experience in developing driver assistance systems. And the transfer of knowledge within the Daimler Group forms the basis of a high speed of innovation. Thanks to its overall portfolio ranging from passenger cars and vans all the way to buses and trucks, the Daimler Group is ideally positioned for all relevant application scenarios of automated driving. Scalable solutions are therefore available. Across all divisions, the company is guided by a clear philosophy which is based on introducing a safe, dependable and mature system.

Developments from the Mercedes-Benz Cars division suitable for haulers and their transport needs will also be used at Daimler Trucks. Level 2 systems now available will be raised to level 4 through innovation and the re-definition of existing systems. Despite all the similarities, the requirements for highly automated driving of cars and trucks differ considerably from one another. The sheer size of a truck makes higher demands on the technology than in the passenger car sector as do moving systems on an articulated system, for example. In addition, the driving behavior due to a greater mass or other deceleration values as well as other driving characteristics, for example in curves, place much higher demands on the system. The operating conditions in the transport industry are also much tougher. In order to enable efficient delivery cycles and to meet customer requirements for fast delivery, the vehicles must be operated for as long as possible. This must not lead to any restrictions in durability or reliability, for example under a wide variety of weather conditions and extreme vibrations. Finally, public acceptance is a key factor to successfully integrating level 4 systems into the value chain.

Two sensors are currently in use at level 2. In the next development step at level 4, there will be significantly more, all also higher performing. This leads to a completely new level of data volume but also places extremely high demands on the quality of data processing. The goal: the driver's perception is recreated by the holistic recording of the traffic and vehicle situation by different sensor technologies. With their specific strengths, each sensor makes a contribution to the overall performance and safety. Three different technological approaches form the basis: radar, camera and lidar.

The safety, precision and durability of the systems will already play a leading role at launch. As in aircraft, all safety-relevant functions will therefore be equipped with a redundant system that is capable of seamlessly taking over in case the primary control system malfunctions.

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Daimler Trucks North America Introduces First SAE Level 2 Automated Truck in North America with the Freightliner New Cascadia

Daimler Press Release  /  January 7, 2019

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Jan. 07, 2019 – Today, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) introduced the first SAE Level 2 automated truck in series production in North America with the latest enhancements to the Freightliner new Cascadia®. Level 2 automation means the truck is capable of both lateral (steering) and longitudinal (acceleration/deceleration) control, and is part of the revolutionary truck technologies featured by DTNA at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

According to NHTSA, ninety-four percent of crashes are attributable to human error. Automating acceleration, deceleration, and steering reduces the chance for human error, mitigates collisions, and can potentially save lives. These technologies can also enhance the driver experience by making the truck-driving task easier, thereby improving driver comfort and well-being. 

DTNA’s expertise in automation is backed by Daimler Trucks, which announced today at CES an investment of over half a billion dollars and an addition of more than 200 new jobs in its global push to put highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) on the road within a decade. Most of these jobs will be located at the new Daimler Trucks Automated Truck Research & Development Center at DTNA’s headquarters in Portland, Ore.

Automation for Safety, Driver Experience, and Efficiency

In May 2015, DTNA pioneered automated driving with the introduction of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, which was the first automated truck licensed to operate on U.S. public highways. Today, the new Cascadia delivers SAE Level 2 driving capabilities with the Detroit Assurance® 5.0 suite of camera- and radar-based safety systems. This new, proprietary system marks a key milestone in Freightliner’s relentless pursuit of industry-leading overall safety, driver experience, and fuel efficiency.

The system can accelerate, decelerate, and steer independently. The Detroit Assurance 5.0 Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Assist features make automated driving possible in all speed ranges for the first time in a series production truck:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control to 0 mph: Improves safety, efficiency, and driver comfort by automatically decelerating and accelerating to maintain a safe following distance. This technology is especially important for maintaining a comfortable driving experience in congested traffic conditions where repeated braking, accelerating and resetting of traditional cruise control can lead to driver fatigue.
  • Active Lane Assist: Consists of Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Protection. When Adaptive Cruise Control is enabled, Lane Keep Assist supports the driver by using micro-steering movements to keep the new Cascadia centered in its detected lane. With Lane Departure Protection, if the truck begins to drift without the turn signal engaged, the system will counter steer the truck back into its lane and give an auditory and visual warning.

In addition to Level 2 automated driving features, the Detroit Assurance 5.0 active safety and advanced driver assistance systems are designed to keep truck drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists safe:

  • Active Brake Assist 5.0: The fusion of Detroit Assurance 5.0 camera and radar technology detects moving pedestrians and cyclists in front of the truck and can deploy full braking – an industry first. It can also detect and mitigate a collision with full braking on moving and stationary vehicles and objects.
  • Side Guard Assist: Detects objects, including pedestrians and cyclists, in the passenger-side blind spot for the tractor and a full-length 53-foot trailer, another industry first, and delivers an audible and visual warning.

“The enhancements we’ve made to Detroit Assurance have the potential to make an immediate, measurable and positive impact on overall North American road safety,” said Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing for Freightliner and Detroit. “In fact, fleets with trucks equipped with forward collision mitigation systems can experience a 60% to 80% reduction in rear-end crashes, resulting in potentially fewer accidents and reduced operational costs to our customers.”    

Detroit™ Connect Analytics will provide fleets with analysis and key insights on the performance of the new Detroit Assurance 5.0 safety features. Fleets will be notified if drivers have their hands off the wheel for longer than 60 seconds.

Aerodynamic and Powertrain Efficiency Gains

The new Cascadia also features one of the industry’s most efficient designs, inside and out. Thanks to DTNA’s significant investment in ongoing R&D in aerodynamics, powertrain development and systems intelligence, the new Cascadia delivers a 35% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the first Cascadia introduced in 2007. This equates to annual savings of up to 4,700 gallons of fuel per truck, which is the amount of fuel consumed by six typical family cars in a year.

Aerodynamic enhancements to the new Cascadia include Aerodynamic Height Control. An industry first, Aerodynamic Height Control electronically lowers the suspension height at 55 mph to optimize airflow over and under the front of the truck and reduce drag. Other enhancements include Michelin X Line D+ Energy tires developed in collaboration with Michelin, which reduce rolling resistance in 6x4 applications, and a low ground clearance bumper.

Another critical component of the new Cascadia’s performance is its Integrated Detroit Powertrain, a powerful combination of a proprietary heavy-duty engine, transmission, and axle that is designed to seamlessly work together for maximum efficiency. The integrated powertrain features Intelligent Powertrain Management 6, which uses the truck’s kinetic energy to automatically adjust to the truck’s surroundings by reducing braking power and making transmission and engine adjustments, saving fuel and reducing wear and tear on components.

“It’s not just the new Cascadia’s aerodynamic shape, specific options or powertrain components that make it the best – it’s that these features are engineered to seamlessly work together,” said Kary Schaefer, general manager, marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America. “And we are the only truck manufacturer to offer that level of integration.

For fleets concerned with fuel economy, Detroit Connect Analytics will also introduce new Intelligent Powertrain Management reporting capabilities, and the fuel analysis will indicate if the vehicle is using Aerodynamic Height Control. 

“With more than 65,000 customer deliveries to date and 50,000 on order, the new Cascadia has proven to be the Class 8 truck of choice in the industry,” continued Schaefer. “We’re proud to be once again raising the bar.”

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