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May 29, 2019 12:30 PM, EDT

Daimler Trucks Creates Autonomous Technology Group

Cascadia featuring SAE Level 2 driving. Freightliner Cascadia featuring SAE Level 2 driving. (Daimler Trucks North America)

Daimler Trucks announced the formation of its Autonomous Technology Group as the world’s largest truck maker works to put highly automated trucks on the road within a decade.

Martin Daum

Daum

“We are the pioneer for automated trucks. With the formation of our global Autonomous Technology Group, we are taking the next step, underscoring the importance of highly automated driving for Daimler Trucks, the industry and society as well,” said Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum.

Daimler Trucks is a unit of Daimler AG.

Software development, redundancy in the chassis enabling the vehicle’s systems to take over roles of a professional driver, sensor kit integration and operations infrastructure are the main activities of the new unit, according to Daimler Trucks.

Peter Vaughan Schmidt, currently head of strategy at Daimler Trucks, will lead the global and cross-divisional organization, effective June 1.

Its highly automated trucks will correspond to SAE Level 4 autonomy, in which the vehicle is able to perform all driving functions under certain conditions but the driver has the option of controlling the vehicle. The truck maker said it would invest $500 million in the project.

Daimler Trucks announced its goal for highly automated trucks at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas in January. At CES, a massive consumer electronics show, it also showcased a SAE Level 2 truck, now in series production from Freightliner. It makes partially automated driving possible for the driver in all speed ranges.

Freightliner is a brand of Daimler Trucks North America, and is the leader in U.S. Class 8 retail sales. It also makes the Western Star brand.

“With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking,” Schmidt said.

“In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the USA,” he added. “In doing so, we will work closely together with customers whose business matches this automated driving application. We will not only develop the respective technology but also set up the required operations infrastructure and network.”

Torc autonomous car

Torc autonomous car by Torc Robotics.

Blacksburg, Va.-based Torc Robotics, with its software expertise, will be part of the newly established group, pending the regulatory approval of the acquisition recently announced by Daimler Trucks.

Additionally, Daimler Trucks indicated it will continue to work very closely on automated vehicle technology across Daimler, including joint activities with passenger cars in order to leverage synergies.

Daimler Trucks’ new group takes shape following other truck makers that also showcased automated vehicles during CES.

Peterbilt Motors Co., a unit of Paccar Inc., displayed a Model 579 autonomous development tractor with a Paccar MX-13 engine. Peterbilt said the vehicle had a suite of autonomous technologies installed.

TuSimple, a firm that provides autonomous systems, showed its technology in a Peterbilt Class 8 vehicle at CES. TuSimple uses the Nvidia Drive computing platform as the basis for its programs. TuSimple began in China in 2015 and now has research and development centers in Beijing and San Diego.

Daimler Trucks said in 2014 it presented the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world’s first automated truck, and was first to demonstrate the technological opportunities and great potential that automated trucks offer the economy and society.

In 2015, Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck obtained the first road license for a partially automated commercial vehicle, and in the same year, the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with Highway Pilot took place on public roads.