Tested Successfully in Traffic: Driverless Truck, Bus

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October 4, 2015

Germany and China have upped the ante on driverless vehicles.

The German automaker Daimler has conducted a test of a self-driving truck, on the Autobahn. And Chinese automaker Yutong has tested a huge self-driving bus through a busy city.

The truck (left) wasn’t driving itself. A high-ranking Daimler executive sat in the front seat of the Mercedes-Benz Actros 18-wheeler as it motored nine miles down a busy German motorway. The test of Daimler’s “Highway Pilot” was the first in real-world conditions. The company had previously tested the system on closed roadways in Germany and in Nevada.

The Daimler system employs a sophisticated system of cameras, radar, and speed controls. The system works in tandem with a human driver, who can take control of the vehicle at any time, either at his or her own initiative or when the software signals that it’s time for the human to retake control.

The bus, equipped with a system of camera and radar and an integrated navigation system, completed a 20-mile route through the city of Zhengzhou and hit a top speed of 42 miles per hour. The auto company, Yutong, reported that the bus was successful in overtaking, changing lanes, and even taking appropriate action at 26 separate sets of traffic lights. The bus was full of passengers, and an online video showed the driver with his hands behind his head, enjoying the ride.

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