The first officially licensed autonomous-capable semi-truck is here. Licensed in Nevada (only on highways during daylight hours and good weather), it is not a driverless vehicle; humans are still required. However, the human is not an operator, at least all the time. In theory, he could be playing Candy Crush or watching a ball game.
The truck is named “Inspiration.” Freightliner, its manufacturer, is by far not the only one looking to make a splash in the autonomous car game. Apple, Tesla, Uber, and of course ,Google all have plans for autonomous cars.
Toyota, working with MIT and Stanford, will invest at least $50 million over the next five years in “assisted autonomy.” Unlike the famous Google car, this will not be a fully autonomous vehicle. Toyota’s goal is to have AI that prevents crashes of human-operated cars. This neatly avoids many (but not all) legal liability issues that plague autonomous systems.
In spite of all the interest of big players, Freightliner, is the first licensed autonomous vehicle. This is the first vehicle that is legally allowed to operate autonomously. This means on your next visit to Las Vegas, you might see a big semi barreling down the highway, while the person at the steering wheel is reading a newspaper.
Learn more about the Inspiration at IEEE Spectrum or check out Freightliners cheery video below.
This video explains how radar, cameras, and “platooning” work.