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First-ever robot truck trialed on German motorway

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Mercedes-Benz Actros truck equipped with a self-driving system takes to the highway on October 2, 2015. (AFP)

The first-ever robot truck has been trialed in real traffic conditions by German automaker Daimler, after obtaining a special license issued for the task.

Equipped with the intelligent “Highway Pilot’” system, the Mercedes-Benz Actros drove for 14 kilometers on Germany’s A8 motorway, between Stuttgart airport and Denkendorf , without the help of a driver who was present in the cabin for safety measures, RT reported on Saturday.

The new technology, unveiled in May, includes an autopilot system, radars, cameras, and active speed regulators to enable the truck to run on its own

“The multi-sensor fusion, i.e. the combination of proven new-generation assistance and safety systems and sensors, enables the truck with the Highway Pilot system to continually observe the entire area in front of the vehicle and to take control itself in certain situations,” said Daimler in a press release.   

The system is fully capable of operating autonomously, but it is important to have a driver present in the cabin as he or she “retains full responsibility, needs to monitor the traffic … and must be able to intervene at any time.”

The company explained that during the test drive, the driver had the option to take control of the vehicle if found it necessary.

"Today's premiere is a further important step towards the market maturity of autonomously driving trucks -– and towards the safe, sustainable road freight transport of the future," said Wolfgang Bernhard, the board member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, who was present in the truck during the test.

"Safe testing in real traffic is absolutely decisive for the development of this technology to market maturity. We are now able to proceed with this,” he concluded.

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