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Self-Driving Semis Roll at Hoover Dam

Freightliner Inspiration is Daimler's entrant to the driverless world
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2015 3:25 PM CDT
Self-Driving Semis Roll at Hoover Dam
Freightliner unveils its Inspiration self-driving truck during an event at the Hoover Dam Tuesday, May 5, 2015, near Boulder City, Nev.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

(Newser) – If the idea of driverless cars makes you a little twitchy, get ready to multiply that feeling: Daimler has rolled out the self-driving semis it envisions mass-producing in the not-too-distant future, reports Reuters. The Freightliner was unveiled last night in something of a spectacle at the Hoover Dam, where the AP notes that it "negotiated some very tight turns," though with the caveat that an actual human had his hands on the wheel—just in case. Daimler has already tested the Freightliner on the German autobahn, but now has Nevada's blessing to test it on the open road. "Today is history," proclaimed Gov. Brian Sandoval.

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Daimler claims some 90% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error, a percentage it hopes the Freightliner could reduce, particularly the portion of those that are blamed on driver drowsiness, adds Ars Technica. A Daimler exec says its research shows that with the truck in self-driving mode, "driver drowsiness decreases by about 25%." Which is not to say that humans would be completely absent: It envisions the rig doing the heavy lifting of driving, while allowing a driver to do paperwork and the like—akin to pilots putting a plane on autopilot, notes Reuters. "Before mass production, the liability issue has to be addressed," says another Daimler exec. (Read more driverless cars stories.)

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