Mercedes-Benz believes it's built a self-driving semi-truck that could eventually help cut down on highway tragedies that kill thousands of drivers each year. The Future Truck 2025 can't navigate city streets autonomously like Google's fleet of cars, but is perfectly capable of holding its own on the open road — and that's where sleep-deprived truck drivers most often pose a threat to people driving smaller passenger vehicles. Using a combination of advanced dual cameras, radar sensors, and the latest blind-spot technology (Mercedes refers to the system as "Highway Pilot"), the Future Truck 2025 analyzes the road to get a sense of surrounding traffic and terrain. The "highway" part of that is critical; a driver is still required to get the truck onto the interstate and successfully merge into traffic.
But once that's done, a driver can sit back and relax in the Future Truck — with Samsung tablet in hand, according to Mercedes renderings — even swiveling his or her seat away from the steering wheel to reach a more comfortable resting position. It's hard to envision an interior that's more premium than what Mercedes has here, with various touch panels throughout, wood floors, ambient lighting, and plenty of space to kick back. On the outside, it's not quite as aerodynamic or attention-grabbing as Walmart's truck of the future, but it still stands out when compared to your everyday semi
When the truck is driving itself down highways at 50mph, its striking front LED grid changes from white to a pulsing blue color. That's a clever visual cue for nearby drivers, but as Wired notes it's also one that could run into trouble with highway and road regulations. That said, Mercedes has some time to work those things out and get the legislation signed that would allow these on the road; after all, it's called the Future Truck 2025 because the automaker doesn't expect this concept to become a commercially viable truck for at least a decade. But if it does, it could make those long slogs and the entire profession more appealing to newcomers — and truck drivers could use the help.