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If you’re afraid of autonomous vehicles, you might want to avoid the roads of Nevada. That state has officially granted Daimler trucking subsidiary Freightliner the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States.
The Freightliner Inspiration officially got its state plates in a ceremony on Thursday, as part of Daimler Trucking North America’s showcase of the developments it’s made in autonomous commercial truck technology.
While an autonomous truck launch might seem pretty odd amid all the hype around self-driving personal cars, it’s actually a pretty big deal.
Think about the immense toll that long distance trucks take on our roads and how much their sheer bulk can contribute to congestion. If autonomous technology can contribute to that in any way, surely that’s technology worth investing in. Heck, the immense physical and mental toll long-distance trucking takes on drivers makes it seem like a no-brainer.
At present, there’s no need to worry about the tech causing job losses either. The Inspiration still requires a driver, but their job is to monitor systems and intervene in the event of a malfunction.
According to Freightliner, Nevada was selected as the demonstration location because it is one of four states, plus the District of Columbia, with laws regulating autonomous vehicle operation. Nevada legislation passed in 2011 and 2013 regulates the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles. The legislation includes commercial trucks and sets standards specifying the number of miles an autonomous vehicle must have been tested in certain conditions before it can be granted a license to be driven in Nevada.