Moving its autonomous vehicle program one more mile down the road, Daimler has become the first manufacturer to be granted a license to test its self-driving Freightliner Inspiration Truck on public roads in the U.S. Based on a production Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, the Inspiration is fitted with an advanced version of Daimler's sophisticated Highway Pilot technology successfully demonstrated last summer in Germany. In that test, a concept Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 drove along a cordoned-off section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg. The Inspiration made its historic run down Interstate 15 near Las Vegas, carrying Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG board member responsible for Trucks and Buses, and Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada, where the license was issued. 

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Daimler's Highway Pilot technology consists of front-facing radar plus a stereo camera array coupled with the firm's Adaptive Cruise Control+ system currently used on the Mercedes-Benz Actros truck. Prior to applying for this public-use license, Daimler engineers further fine-tuned the package and then subjected it to over 10,000 miles of additional testing on a closed course in Germany. Gov. Sandoval noted that Nevada's DMV closely monitored advancements being made in autonomous vehicle development and reviewed Daimler Truck North America's (DTNA) safety, testing and training plans before granting permission to proceed with this and future demonstration runs. 

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"The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is all about more sustainable transport, for the benefit of the economy, society and consumers alike," stressed DTNA President and CEO Martin Daum, following the initial test. "It remains our goal to be in a position to offer the Highway Pilot in series-produced vehicles from the middle of the coming decade." Daimler states that a driver will always play a pivotal role in the day-to-day use of any commercial vehicle, particularly when it is not travelling on a major highway. However, it cites research indicating that driver drowsiness decreases by about 25% when the truck is being operated in autonomous mode and the operator is engaged in other "meaningful" ancillary support operations.

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