The idea of self-driving vehicles taking over the trucking industry has always been flirting in the imagination of the general public during the majority of the last couple of decades. Then, in recent years, we witnessed that same promising concept as it finally came to life in the form of self-driving 4WDs and small passenger vehicles. But in 2016, the ante is up another notch with the introduction of automated driving technology in the trucking industry. That’s right, even heavyweights such as buses, rigid trucks, and prime mover trucks are now slowly adapting the driverless concept and are even positioning themselves at the forefront of the technological revolution in the trucking market.
A number of companies have been developing automation technologies that promise to lower costs, reduce accidents, and improve overall efficiency for the trucking industry by allowing drivers to make longer trips that include periods of rest. These includes Chinese manufacturing giants such as Foton, who even teamed up with Baidu to bring one of the most advanced self-driving trucks in China. The two corporate giants collaborated to develop the “Super Truck” powered by Baidu’s limited self-driving automation and Foton’s driverless technologies and enormous experience in the automotive transport market.
“The mass deployment and implementation of driverless commercial cars may witness a boom as strong demand is projected for non-price sensitive buyers, usually company buyers,” said Gu Weihao, general manager of Baidu Intelligent Vehicle, known as the L3 Division of the internet company.
The truck will be rated L3 (Level 3) according to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This means that the model vehicle is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time.
During the ongoing 3rd World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Baidu also showcased the L4 driverless cars developed by its autonomous driving arm and automakers of Chery, BYD and Shou Qi Group. ever since the Chinese company entered the fray with Google and Tesla Motors for R&D on autonomous cars in 2013, Baidu’s driverless car has already completed trail runs in mixed road conditions.