Daimler Truck just debuted an autonomous electric semi-truck

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Daimler Truck North America has just debuted a demonstrator electric semi-truck with autonomous driving technology.

The electric autonomous Freightliner eCascadia technology demonstrator is based on a production electric Freightliner eCascadia. It’s equipped with Torc Robotics‘ autonomous driving software and the latest Level 4 sensor and compute technology that will eventually enable Level 4 autonomous driving.

Level 4 is considered fully autonomous, meaning the truck can handle most driving situations independently, but a driver still needs to be behind the wheel. 

Torc is a self-driving truck specialist based in Blacksburg, Virginia, and it’s Daimler Truck’s independent subsidiary for autonomous driving technology.

Daimler’s goal is to develop this research and engineering project into a modular, scalable platform for different trucking applications to offer bespoke solutions for customers.

Daimler’s autonomous electric semi-truck

The electric Class 8 Freightliner eCascadia went into production in 2022 and is now being driven in more than 55 fleets in the US. It comes equipped with the proprietary Detroit ePowertrain. Several battery and drive axle options are available with range options of 155, 220, or 230 miles, and the battery can be charged to 80% in as little as 90 minutes.

The autonomous sensor suite and computer power are packaged to fit the eCascadia’s smaller day cab configuration. Daimler Truck North America’s engineering team developed an advanced prototype air-cooling concept for the compute stack, which is positioned between the driver and passenger seats.

Customized software provides the autonomous system with control interfaces and feedback on vehicle status. Cameras, lidar, and radar sensors are above the windscreen, and the in-house designed sensor bar cover protects from damage and soiling. Four additional 12-volt batteries provide enough power to ensure uninterrupted operation and increased efficiency and safety.

Daimler says the autonomous eCascadia could be used on shorter, repeatable routes, and it’s currently testing the autonomous electric semi-truck demonstrator between freight centers along US highway corridors. 

Daimler Truck has been developing and testing autonomous truck technology since 2015, and it aims to enter the market with production SAE Level 4 autonomous trucks in the US by 2027.


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