Daimler Truck Reveals Autonomous EV Tech Demo Truck

May 20, 2024

Listen to this article:

Using this year’s ACT Expo show floor as a fitting stage, Daimler Truck introduced its battery electric autonomous Freightliner eCascadia technology demonstrator to attendees, giving them a glimpse into the not-so-distant future of commercial trucking.

Based on a production battery-electric Freightliner eCascadia, the truck is equipped with Torc Robotics’ autonomous driving software and the latest Level 4 sensor and compute technology. While the OEM is using this model as a research and advanced engineering project, the combination of these cutting-edge technologies could someday be offered to fleets to fulfill their specific operational needs.

“By combining zero-emission and autonomous technologies in one product, we are testing solutions for challenges our customers are likely to face in the future,” said John O’Leary, president and CEO of Daimler Truck North America. “We want to give them choices that allow them to do what they do best: keep the world moving today and well into the future. That takes a lot of foresight, questioning, testing, learning, improving and co-creating with our customers years in advance to ultimately find the right solution. This truck is a great example of the beginning of that development process.”

While currently being tested in hub-to-hub applications, the truck’s intent is to drive autonomously between freight centers along U.S. highway corridors, exploring the link between zero emissions and autonomous infrastructure. For example, the charging infrastructure and autonomous freight hubs could be combined to charge and load simultaneously, further enhancing efficiency for carriers.

“Together with Torc, we are making significant progress towards introducing autonomous trucks in the U.S. by 2027,” said Joanna Buttler, Head of Global Autonomous Technology Group at Daimler Truck. “While we target autonomous trucks with conventional propulsion technology for this first market launch, we always look further into the future. We will employ an iterative approach to the development, testing and optimization of autonomous-electric technology, while exploring the most promising use cases in collaboration with our fleet customers.”

Daimler Truck has been developing and testing autonomous truck technology since 2015 with the reveal of the Freightliner Inspiration Truck as the first licensed SAE Level 2 autonomous commercial truck to operate on open public highways in the United States. The company aims to enter the market with production SAE Level 4 autonomous trucks in the U.S. by 2027. Daimler Truck’s technology partner Torc has been testing autonomous-ready Freightliner Cascadia trucks in real-world applications with selected logistics companies such as Schneider and C.R. England, successfully moving customer freight autonomously on its test route between Phoenix and Oklahoma City, during the past year.