Daimler Trucks Dreaming up Self-Driving Semis and Electric School Buses

June 21, 2018


The new facility is part of the company’s announcement to invest nearly $3 billion more in total research and development activities in 2018 and 2019 with nearly $600 million of that earmarked for e-mobility, connectivity and automated commercial vehicle technology.


Interestingly, Daimler Trucks doesn’t believe that fully driverless commercial trucks will be produced in the near future. But they do see the technology having the potential to create advantages for the global logistics industry, such as helping fleets keep up with freight demands in the face of a declining workforce of long-haul truck drivers.


One example of automated truck driving research: platooning. Using advanced sensor systems along with driver assistance systems, braking is coordinated across platooned vehicles and steering is partially automated to keep trucks centered. Trucks in the platoon respond to braking commands in less than three tenths of a second – significantly faster than a human can react – allowing for close following distances.


At their announcement event, Daimler also showed off a new electric school bus called Jouley, with a range of up to 100 miles. School buses are an ideal spot to begin electrification, according to the company, because short, predictable routes provide time to recharge and because of the health hazards from diesel exhaust.


Daimler hasn’t announced pricing for its electric buses, but said they would likely cost two or three times the $100,000 cost of conventional diesel school buses.


However, Roger Nielsen, chief executive of Daimler Trucks North America, said states such as California are offering six-figure incentives to persuade bus companies to switch away from diesel. That’s enough to kick-start the market, he said, and Daimler plans to begin shipping its Jouley buses in limited quantities next year.

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