You know that feeling when a huge big rig drives up next to you in traffic, the tires taller than your car windows? You just hope the driver sees you and stays in his lane. Well how would you feel if that huge truck had no driver at all? The future of self-driving vehicles might be with the trucks that stock our stores and deliver our freight. And this is a really big deal.
Self-driving cars are already a big story. They promise to make the roads safer, commutes faster and reduce driver stress. I'm all for that.
However, there's one vehicle that could benefit even more from self-driving technology: The semi truck.
Nearly 70% of the freight in the U.S. is carried on trucks and those cover almost 400 billion miles of U.S. roadways a year.
Most of that driving is long, long hours on boring highways. That long-term concentration takes a serious toll on truck drivers. For comparison, just the five-hour drive between my Phoenix home and California's beaches is more than enough for me and I'm traveling in a comfortable car with all the creature comforts. Transportation regulations allow long-haul truck drivers up to 11 hours behind the wheel.
What if they could kick back and relax while the truck did the boring work for them? That's Mercedes-Benz' plan with the Future Truck 2025. And its interior might also be a clue about how future self-driving car interiors might look.
First, though, there's the technology. This futuristic semi has "Highway Pilot" technology which uses cameras and radar to keep it gliding down the highway at a consistent and safe speed.
It also has automatic braking to bring it to a safe stop in sudden traffic or an emergency. The driver can monitor everything about the truck from the included tablet.
Equally as impressive is the interior. It's open and spacious, and the driver's seat can swivel to the side for doing work or relaxing.
There's also a passenger side chair that looks like it came out of a luxury furniture store.
I wouldn't mind taking a trip in one of these. Check it out below.
The prototype has already been tested in Germany and early reports indicate it works well. It's already legal to use in some U.S. states, but Mercedes expects it may take until 2025 to clear all the government and driver union hurdles for full adoption in Europe.
What do you think? Would you feel safe on the road with self-driving trucks, or do you want a human in control at all times? Let me know in the comments.