Daimler's dreams of self-driving big rig trucks just took one step closer to reality. The automaker has conducted the first-ever test of its semi-autonomous Highway Pilot system in a production truck on a public road, driving an augmented Mercedes-Benz Actros down Germany's Autobahn 8. While the vehicle needed a crew to keep watch, it could steer itself down the highway using a combination of radar, a stereo camera array and off-the-shelf systems like adaptive cruise control. The dry run shows that the technology can work on just about any vehicle in the real world, not just one-off concepts.
This doesn't mean you'll see fleets of robotic trucks in the near future. Daimler had to get permission for this run, and the law (whether European or otherwise) still isn't equipped to permit regular autonomous driving of any sort, let alone for giant cargo haulers. Still, this could make a better case for approving some form of self-driving transportation. Even though there's still plenty of work left before this tech can handle any situation, it's good enough that it can be trusted in run-of-the-mill vehicles at high speeds.