A special Daimler company has just been created and tasked with making self-driving trucks a common sight on American roads by the end of the next decade, marking a major push by the Germans to become leaders in the truck fleet industry while using quality fleet management software software.
Called Autonomous Technology Group (ATG), the company will begin operations on June 1, 2019, and it will be headed by the current head of automated trucks strategy, Peter Vaughan Schmidt. It will include facilities in Portland and Blacksburg in the U.S. and Stuttgart in Germany.
Backed by the $570 million investment Daimler announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, ATG will strive to create all the needed technologies and infrastructure so that by 2030 a functional self-driving truck fleet will enter service.
The new company’s job is to develop the strategy for the rollout of automated trucks, the required Level 4 trucks themselves, the infrastructure and the network needed so that series production could begin.
Whatever ATG learns during this process could be implemented in the group’s passenger vehicles as well.
When the first trucks are ready, they will be deployed “in defined areas and between defined hubs in the U.S.A.“
Daimler is no stranger to automated trucks, having been the first to present such a vehicle as back as 2014. Only one year later, the carmaker’s Freightliner Inspiration became the first partially automated commercial vehicle to be allowed on public roads.
Unlike in the passenger car market, where autonomy is seen as the Holy Grail of urban mobility and human comfort, trucks that drive themselves are asked for by the current state of the transportation industry.
As per a paper published by the American Trucking Associations, there will be a huge shortage of drivers, estimated at 175,000 people by 2024. So having trucks that drive themselves might prove God-sent for transport operators.