Autonomous trucks are here? A couple of truck manufacturers are testing interesting applications for self-driving trucks (Video)

Autonomous trucks are here? A couple of truck manufacturers are testing interesting applications for self-driving trucks (Video)

Everyone knows two things about the future of transportation – all vehicles will be electric and fully autonomous. Major car manufacturers are making steps towards that direction – some cars already have advanced self-driving systems. But what about trucks? Volvo and Mercedes-Benz are testing two very interesting applications for autonomous trucks.

Obviously, in the future most trucks are going to be self-driving. And it is for the better – goods will be transported more efficiently, environment is going to be damaged a little less and roads will be just that little bit safer. However, we don’t have this technology available now, but Volvo and Mercedes is seeing opportunities to improve working conditions of the drivers using advanced autonomous tech.

For example, Volvo is testing autonomous refuse handling trucks in Sweden. However, they do not always drive themselves. In fact, the first visit in the new area is to train the system. Various radars and sensors, situated around the refuse truck, scan the new area and computer memorizes the route. When the truck comes to the same place for the second time, the driver just steps out of the truck by the first house and goes to deal with the garbage containers. The truck will then proceed to reverse to other houses where containers need to be emptied. The driver will simply walk in front of the truck the whole time, ensuring that the system is not going to cause an accident.

Volvo refuse truck drives backwards, avoiding all the obstacles using a system of radars and sensors. (Volvo Trucks)

Volvo Trucks says that autonomous refuse trucks like this will save time and prevent workplace injuries. Drivers will not have to climb in and out of the truck all the time, which will make their job a little easier. Meanwhile, trucks will be able to drive around parked cars and will even avoid unexpected obstacles. If something does happen out of the ordinary, the driver can always use the exterior-mounted panel to stop the autonomous operation. The system is already being tested in Sweden and seems to work very well.

Refuse handling trucks should be autonomous. Now drivers struggle to manoeuvre through tiny streets, usually filled with parked cars. If they want to reverse safely, they need a second worker to go behind them and give directions. And then there is that exhausting climbing in and out of the truck by every house.

How Volvo’s autonomous refuse truck works


Meanwhile Daimler is seeing another area where autonomous trucks could bring substantial benefits – clearing snow from runways. Every winter causes trouble in many airports and snow has to be cleared often. This causes delays and even cancelled flights. When weather is unpredictable, truck drivers have to stay waiting for the call, which sometimes doesn’t come. On other occasions they are so busy that they simply cannot keep up with the snow. Solution – an autonomous convoy.

4 Mercedes-Benz trucks can clean the runway at the same time and only one driver is needed (Mercedes-Benz pic.)

Mercedes already tested 4 Arocs trucks convoy. These snow clearing trucks were equipped with Remote Truck Interface technology. This means that only one driver is needed to control the entire convoy. He drives one of the trucks (all of them are the same) and other ones follow. He can adjust their path in the screen in his cabin. Mercedes says that this works much faster than the current methods, especially if you expand the convoy – there could be up to 14 trucks controlled by a single driver.

GPS and a number of different sensors ensure that trucks maintain the proper line. This is very important, because now human driver commonly damage runway lights and markings – it is unavoidable in blizzard conditions with very poor visibility. It is obvious that it would be much quicker and more effective without human drivers, because computers always make trucks follow the most efficient line and maintain a proper distance from the truck driving in front. The operator could also engage attachments from his own cabin and adjust each truck individually. The same technology could be employed in other areas too.

Mercedes-Benz automated convoy testing


But what truck drivers will think about these advancements? It seems like autonomous vehicles are ready to take over many fields at any moment, but it is unlikely that drivers will start losing their jobs in favour of autonomous technology any time soon – their expertise will remain needed for a long time.

Five interesting automobile commercials from the past: why you don’t see a car in Lamborghini’s clip?

Five interesting automobile commercials from the past: why you don’t see a car in Lamborghini’s clip?

We buy cars relying on our own taste, suggestions from our friends and, sometimes, commercials. We always want a better, faster, better looking car and sometimes it just takes one short clip to make us change our bedroom wall poster to something else. We collected most interesting weird car commercials from the past, this time focusing on the dream cars.

All car enthusiasts have their dream car – something that is too expensive at the moment, but maybe someday it will stand in your garage. Did you ever dream about having a Lamborghini? Or maybe a Porsche? Or maybe you’re a muscle car guy and you wish you could drive around in a vintage Ford Mustang? We compiled commercials about all of these cars, but to start with let’s look at probably one of the best car commercials of all time, starring BMW M5 (E39).

Super saloons are mighty impressive vehicles that can do everything. While they are happy to tear up a race track, they can drive you to work or kids to school the very next day. BMW M5 is arguably the biggest name in the super saloon game and here is how E39 M5 was advertised back in a day.

We know exactly why we love this commercial so much – it is a surprise factor. When you look at the clip knowing it is a commercial for an M5, you are expecting it to speed past a land speed record car when rock music in the background gets louder and louder. But not this time – M5 was always in the front. M5 at the time was the fastest saloon car in the world and boy was it proud of it. This clip was uploaded to YouTube 11 years ago, in 2006, but it is older, since E39 ended its production life in 2003.

Now, BMW M5 is brilliant, but it is not a car for everyone. Meanwhile Porsche is a name you can’t help but respect, regardless of the vehicle. And for all good reasons – cars of this brand are fast, extremely high-quality, composed in racing tracks and engineered to perfection. And this is how you advertise it when you don’t have to prove anything anymore.

Classy. Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche walking casually through the history of the brand and stopping for a moment to adore a legendary 959 – what a commercial. This man is a pretty big name in automotive history as you might imagine. His dad was a founder of Volkswagen and Porsche brands and his son was one of the creators of 911.

Meanwhile back in the 1960’s Ford Mustang had to prove a lot to secure its presence in the market of sports cars. However, this commercial is a little bit weird in its characters.

Sure, a move-away steering wheel is a nice feature and the car looks good, but it is not the star of the commercial. A man got called by a mermaid, so he jumped into his Mustang and drove to the beach to see her – a perfectly sound commercial, we say. By the way, the steering wheel in this car is, according to us, one of the most beautiful in the automotive history.

Not everyone likes sports cars, so we can take a step away from them for a moment. How about luxury? Many people have Mercedes-Benz cars as their dream vehicles and we get it – they are posh, reliable and are a symbol of wealth and good taste. However, Mercedes drivers have a bit of reputation, which, intentionally or not, has been represented in this commercial.

Ok, this stereotype caries through many luxury brands, but it seems to have stuck with Jaguar and Mercedes drivers very tightly. On the other hand, this commercial does underline car’s key characteristics – dependability and four-wheel-drive system.

Finally, we come to Lamborghini – the original poster car, dream of all car enthusiasts, author of cars that got us into automotive culture. However, this commercial is actually quite unusual, let’s see if you can pick up why.

Yup, no Lamborghini in the video. While the clip is mostly about Sant’Agata, Lamborghini is really a star, even without ever showing up. Interestingly, not everyone got the point of this commercial so we kindly explain – green light for pedestrians is very short, because Sant’Agata is Lamborghini country.

If you enjoy vintage car commercials, we offer two other parts of this series:

In the first article we showed creative clips about Ford Model T, classic MINI, SAAB 900 Turbo, first generation Volkswagen Golf GTI and Lada Niva

And in the second we took a look at how Audi 100, Golf MkII, Volkswagen Passat, Opel Calibra and Fiat Multipla were advertised.

Torture camp for MB cars – see where Mercedes-Benz tests its new vehicles

Torture camp for MB cars – see where Mercedes-Benz tests its new vehicles

This year is very important for the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart – 50 years ago a new car testing facility was opened. It is a place which played a huge role in making Mercedes as famous for its reliability as it is today. The safety, endurance, comfort and reliability features of vehicles are checked here, and its testing facilities are pretty amazing.

The development of this amazing testing facility started with concentrically arranged circular tracks with different surfaces: vehicles can be tested here on blue basalt, concrete, slippery asphalt and large cobblestones. Daimler pic.

Back in the 1950’s, it was understood that Mercedes-Benz cannot continue expanding its model range at such an impressive pace without investing into a proper testing facility. This need was first addressed, back in 1953, by Dr Fritz Nallinger, Head of Development of the then Daimler-Benz AG. It took several years of careful planning and dealing with the local government until all the permissions were received and the project could be started.

Mercedes-Benz cars can be driven here for days, but drivers have to change every 2 hours. Daimler pic.

The work on a long stretch of company-owned land, directly adjacent to the Untertürkheim plant known as the “bottleneck”, started in 1956 and in the next year a small testing track was already completed. It had a skid pad featuring concentrically arranged circular tracks with different surfaces: vehicles can be tested here on blue basalt, concrete, slippery asphalt and large cobblestones. There were also some sprinklers used to simulate wet road conditions. But, almost immediately, Mercedes engineers understood that this facility was not enough.

In theory, speeds up to 200 km/h could be reached on this banked curve, but drivers could not stand it physically. Daimler pic.

The engineers recognized the need to test the brand’s vehicles on steep gradients, on extremely rough terrain, on endurance and high-speed tracks. And so the testing facility at Stuttgart continued expanding for a decade, until in May 9 1967 this major platform for vehicle development was opened to the media. This was actually quite an interesting event, as it is very unusual for public eyes to be allowed into this track.

Side winds of up to 100 km/h are generated by 16 blowers. Daimler pic.

Mercedes tests its new prototypes as well as new racing technology in this facility. So competitors might want to take a look, or some curious enthusiasts might interfere with Mercedes plans to produce a new model as a surprise. But on this occasion media was allowed to visit it and this day is now considered the official opening of the famous Mercedes test track.

It has continued to grow throughout the years and nowadays it features:

  • 15,460 meters of test sections, including 3018 meters of high-speed test track;
  • a banked curve with a radius of 100 metres, with its top side positioned almost 90 degrees to the surface. In theory, it is possible to reach 200 km/h here, but human drivers would not survive that. So instead, they attack it at 150 km/h with no hands on the steering wheel;
  • a rough surface test track with a so-called washboard, boneshaker and pothole sections, used to test endurance and reliability. It is so bad, drivers can only stand it for a couple of hours;
  • extreme distortion tracks for commercial vehicles and off-roaders, along with ramps used to force extreme spring compression and rebound;
  • a 34-metre-long crosswind section with 16 blowers designed to produce gusting side winds of speeds up to 100 km/h;
  • a special stretch of road designed to test stability of suspensions during high speed and abrupt changes of lane, and many other interesting elements.
A slalom track tests the vehicle’s ability to perform urgent direction changes. Daimler pic.

What a fascinating piece of history. But one has to remember that a lot of analysis is done outside of this special track as well. Tests are carried out in really demanding racing tracks, extreme climate conditions, wind tunnels and so on. Mercedes-Benz likes to make sure that its vehicles are as good as they can be, and that the legend about the unbeatable Mercedes reliability will continue.

20 years of luxury Mercedes-Benz SUV’s – where and how did it start?

20 years of luxury Mercedes-Benz SUV’s – where and how did it start?

Isn‘t weird that SUV‘s are basically lifted limousines nowadays? They slowly drive around in completely clean urban environments, not even thinking about their ancestors which used to go hunting, farming, fishing and just enjoying places where roads simply don‘t exist. Mercedes-Benz, of course, is a famous luxury-car manufacturer, but do you know where and when did it start manufacturing luxury SUV‘s? They are celebrating their 20th year anniversary this May.

“AAVision” was a near-production concept, introduced in 1996. Image credit: Daimler

You‘ve heard of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s – and you’ve definitely heard of the famous G-Wagon (G-Class). But the truth is that the G-Wagon has only recently become a luxury car, still retaining the looks of a rugged off-roader. When it first came out in 1979 it was more of a military, farming and hunting vehicle that could go anywhere. There were not that many luxury SUV’s on the market up until recently and now everyone is making them.

Mercedes-Benz recognized this market opportunity back in the early 1990’s. The first details of the incoming concept were revealed in 1993 and three years later the “AAVision” concept car was revealed at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. But at the same time, a different process, equally important to this story, was taking place.

It took seven years till the idea was developed into a working car. Image credit: Daimler

When Mercedes-Benz saw the need for a car that can carry its passengers comfortably on the road as well as on rough terrain, it decided to manufacture it in a new plant. It being an SUV, it was decided that the manufacturing would take place in the US. The decision to build a new plant was revealed in 1993, its construction started in 1995 and in 1997 a new factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was ready to be opened.

Official introduction of the new factory was held on 21st of May 1997 and at the same time the new M-Class was revealed. It was far superior than the closest competition as it had fully independent suspension and made do without conventional differential locks, instead using an improved version of the Electronic Traction System. It was an instant hit. In fact, it was so popular that Mercedes had to manufacture a share of the M-Class production at the Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG plant in Graz, Austria.

The M-Class offered the brand’ signature comfort and impressive off-road ability. Image credit: Daimler

Since then, the SUV range of Mercedes-Benz has grown significantly. The plant in Tuscaloosa was also constantly being improved and now it is twice as big as it was in the very beginning. The second generation of the M-Class was just a continuation of its big success story. It was of unibody construction, it featured improved handling, comfort and off-road ability. The third generation, introduced in 2011, is fresh, modern, full of safety tech and much more efficient. Since its facelift in 2015 it is no longer called M-Class. Now it is named GLE, to emphasize its belonging to the E-Class family.

The M-Class and current Mercedes-Benz luxury SUV’s were built in Tuscaloosa. Image credit: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz currently has five SUV’s in its range – G-Class, GLA, GLC, GLE and GLS. They are very desirable, especially bonkers AMG models. So this success story has not ended and it really should not, since SUV‘s are enjoying increasing popularity.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a direct successor to the brand’s first luxury SUV. Image credit: Daimler

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