The State of Nevada has granted a full license to an autonomous truck, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck with Highway Pilot system, from Daimler Trucks, a division of Mercedes-Benz. It is the first autonomous truck to be granted a license for road use, the company said.

The Highway Pilot technology comprises a front radar, stereo camera and Adaptive Cruise Control, Mercedes-Benz said. It uses a stereo camera and radar systems with lane-keeping and collision-prevention functions to regulate speed, braking and steering. “This combination of systems creates an autonomous vehicle that can operate safely under a wide range of driving conditions – the truck automatically complies with posted speed limits, regu­lates the distance from the vehicle ahead or uses the stop-and-go function during rush hour,” Mercedes Benz said.

On the road, drivers can receives a visual prompt in the instrument cluster to activate the Highway Pilot, Mercedes Benz said, and the driver then may switch to autonomous mode. The truck then would adapt to the speed of traffic and the driver would receive confirmation in the instrument cluster that Highway Pilot is active.

The Highway Pilot system does not initiate autonomous passing maneuvers, leave the highway or change lanes, Mercedes Benz said. The Highway Pilot user interface informs the driver about its status and accepts instructions; drivers can deactivate Highway Pilot manually and override the system at any time. If the vehicle is not able to process crucial aspects of its environment, such as road construction or bad weather, the driver is prompted to retake control, the automaker said. As part of testing, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck drove more than 10,000 miles on a test circuit in Papenburg, Germany.

Self-driving cars potentially could eliminate many auto accidents and injuries, with cascading effects through the auto insurance industry, as fewer accidents translate into lower insurance rates. Driverless car technologies could lower insurance rates by as much as $475 per year, according Robert Peterson, a professor of law at Santa Clara University last fall. Peterson spoke on the topic at the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Ratemaking and Product Management seminar in the presentation “Autonomous Vehicles and the Impact on the Insurance Industry.”

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