BLACKSBURG, Va. / PORTLAND, Ore. / STUTTGART, Germany — Daimler Trucks is establishing the Autonomous Technology Group as a global organization for automated driving, bringing together its worldwide expertise and activities, as of June 1. The main tasks of the new unit comprise the overall strategy and implementation of the automated driving roadmap, including R&D, plus setting up the required operations infrastructure and network, heading towards the series production of highly automated trucks (SAE level 4).
The newly established Autonomous Technology Group is part of Daimler Trucks’ global effort to place highly automated trucks onto the roads within a decade. To achieve this, Daimler Trucks announced an investment of more than EUR 500 million (more than $570 million) at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In commercial trucking, level 4 is the logical next step after level 2 to increase safety, as well as efficiency and productivity.
Maximizing the effectiveness of automated driving efforts
Martin Daum, a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG that is responsible for trucks and buses, stated that “We are the pioneer for automated trucks. With the formation of our global Autonomous Technology Group, we are taking the next step, underscoring the importance of highly automated driving for Daimler Trucks, the industry and society as well. With the new unit, we will maximize the effectiveness of our automated driving efforts and the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology. We will, therefore, be in the perfect position to put highly automated driving onto the roads, making transportation safer, saving lives and helping trucking companies boost their productivity.”
New dedicated executive position—U.S.A. first market for highly automated driving
Effective June 1, Peter V. Schmidt, who is currently head of strategy for Daimler Trucks, will lead this new, global and cross-divisional organization. In this position, he will continue to report directly to Martin Daum. Schmidt has 15 years of experience in the industry. In his previous position, he has been responsible for the development of Daimler Trucks’ strategy on automated vehicles.
Schmidt commented that “With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking. In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the U.S.A. In doing so, we will work closely together with customers whose business matches this automated driving application. We will not only develop the respective technology but also set up the required operations infrastructure and network.”
Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA), which includes the market-leading Freightliner brand: “We at DTNA are excited to have our automated driving efforts backed by the Autonomous Technology Group. This new global organization will enable us to even stronger evolve the technology for highly automated driving and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks at our Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland. We’re fully committed to demonstrating the enormous advantages of highly automated driving first here in the U.S.A.”
Main activities of the new unit: software development, chassis redundancy, sensor kit integration and operations infrastructure
Software development for highly automated driving will be one of the key activities of the Autonomous Technology Group. Another one will be the so-called vehicle project: On the one hand, the vehicle project will be responsible for the redundancy in the chassis enabling the vehicle’s systems to take over the roles of a professional driver while on the road, providing the highest safety.
On the other hand, the vehicle project will take care of the automated driving sensor kit integration (camera, lidar, radar), which—together with a very accurate map—is responsible for ensuring that the highly automated truck finds its own way on the road. The operations infrastructure and network to be set up by the Autonomous Technology Group—another key activity—will consist of one main vehicle control center as well as additional stations at logistics hubs.
New unit with global reach to include Torc Robotics
The Autonomous Technology Group has a global reach with experts working in various locations throughout the company’s worldwide development network, i.e. in Portland and Blacksburg (U.S.A.) and Stuttgart (Germany). More locations will follow as the test fleet is built up and deployed.
The Blacksburg-based company, Torc Robotics, will be part of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group, pending the authorities’ approval of the acquisition that was recently announced by Daimler Trucks. Both companies complement each other perfectly, with Torc’s expertise in agile software development and Daimler Trucks’ experience in delivering reliable and safe truck hardware.
Torc Robotics will remain a separate entity and retain its name, team, existing customers and facilities in Blacksburg. In addition, the founders of Torc Robotics will continue to be part of the company’s management team.
Synergies across Daimler, including passenger cars
Daimler Trucks will continue to work very closely on automated vehicle technology across Daimler, including joint activities with passenger cars, for leveraging synergies. At the same time, truck specifications require their own development activities, due to the entirely different nature of the system (one-box vs. articulated), and focus on highway goods transportation vs. inner-city passenger transportation.
Daimler Trucks, the pioneer of automated trucks
Daimler Trucks is the pioneer of truck automation. In 2014, the world’s leading truck manufacturer presented the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world’s first automated truck. It was the first to demonstrate the technological opportunities and great potential that automated trucks offer the economy and society.
In 2015, Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck obtained the first-ever road license for a partially automated commercial vehicle. Also in 2015, the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with Highway Pilot took place on public roads.
Level 2 automated driving is already a reality at Daimler Trucks
With Active Drive Assist (Mercedes-Benz Actros, FUSO Super Great) and Detroit Assurance 5.0 with Active Lane Assist (Freightliner Cascadia), Daimler Trucks is the first manufacturer to place partially automated driving features (SAE level 2) into series production. The new system can independently brake, accelerate and steer.
Unlike systems that only work above a certain speed, Active Drive Assist / Detroit Assurance 5.0 makes partially automated driving possible for the driver in all speed ranges, which is also another first in a series-production truck. This revolutionary active lateral and longitudinal assistance package features a new state-of-the-art radar and camera fusion system.
Daimler AG is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. With its Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses, and Daimler Financial Services divisions, the Group is one of the leading global suppliers of premium cars. The group is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles over six tons. Daimler Financial Services offers financing, leasing, fleet management, investments, credit card, and insurance brokerage, as well as innovative mobility services.
The company founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, made history by inventing the automobile in 1886. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, Daimler sees shaping the future of mobility in a safe and sustainable way as both a motivation and an obligation.
The company’s focus, therefore, remains on innovative and green technologies as well as on safe and superior vehicles that both captivate and inspire. Daimler continues to invest systematically in the development of efficient powertrains—from high-tech combustion engines and hybrid vehicles to all-electric powertrains with battery or fuel cell. Daimler’s goal is to make locally emission-free driving possible in the long term.
The company’s efforts are also focused on the intelligent connectivity of its vehicles, autonomous driving and new mobility concepts. Daimler regards it as its aspiration and obligation to live up to its responsibility to society and the environment. Daimler sells its vehicles and services in nearly every country in the world. Daimler has production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.
In addition to Mercedes-Benz, the world’s most valuable premium automotive brand (source: Interbrand study, 4 Oct. 2018), and Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes me, its brand portfolio includes smart, EQ, Freightliner, Western Star, BharatBenz, FUSO, Setra and Thomas Built Buses, as well as the brands of Daimler Financial Services: Mercedes-Benz Bank, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Daimler Truck Financial.
The company is listed on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges (ticker symbol DAI). In 2018, the Group had a workforce of around 298,700 and sold 3.4 million vehicles. Group revenues amounted to €167.4 billion and Group EBIT to €11.1 billion.