2020 Freightliner Cascadia Goes Hands-Free with Level 2 Autonomy at CES 2019

Freightliner Cascadia - CES 2019

Daimler Trucks has unveiled the first truck to use Level 2 autonomy on U.S. roads.

At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Daimler Trucks subsidiary Freightliner unveiled new automated driving capability in the Class 8 Freightliner Cascadia truck. The company announced it will add Level 2 autonomous technology to the truck later this year. Similar to Tesla’s Autopilot, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist and GM’s Super Cruise, Level 2 autonomy in the Cascadia will allow the driver to take their hands and feet off the wheel, but take full control of the truck when necessary.

What’s more, Daimler Trucks and Buses CEO Martin Daum told press at the event more of the company’s plans for automated driving moving forward. According to an Autoblog report, Daimler will no longer pursue “platooning” in its Class 8 trucks. Basically, that means automating a series of trucks behind a lead vehicle in order to save fuel. In actual testing, the trucks tended to waste more fuel getting back into a platoon when they were split up by a traffic event.

Instead, the company will forge ahead toward high automation in its future trucks. That means skipping Level 3 autonomy, where the driver must still be ready to take over driving, and heading straight for Level 4. At Level 4 automation, the driver can completely relinquish control in certain situations. Contrary to lower level autonomy, here the truck can theoretically complete an entire journey without driver intervention. However, the truck will still likely have a steering wheel and pedals, so the driver can take control.

Freightliner Cascadia
Freightliner Cascadia. [Photo: Daimler Trucks]

Safety systems

In addition to Level 2 autonomous driving, Detroit Assurance 5.0 driver assistance features will also debut later this year (in Q3/Q4 2019). This latest safety suite uses a range of radars and cameras to offer Active Brake Assist with pedestrian detection, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning. Side Guard Assist detects objects in the truck and trailer’s passenger side blind spot, even with a full 53-foot trailer attached.

On top of the safety equipment, Detroit Connect Analytics also provides fleets with analytics on the new Detroit Assurance 5.0 features. For instance, fleet managers will get a notification if drivers take their hands off the wheel for longer than 60 seconds.

Freightliner Cascadia

Aerodynamic improvements

Daimler trucks also worked on aerodynamic updates in the new Freightliner Cascadia, culminating in a 35 percent improvement in fuel economy over the first-generation model introduced in 2007. That includes Aerodynamic Height Control, which automatically lowers the truck at 55 mph to lessen aerodynamic drag. Michelin X Line D+ Energy tires lower rolling resistance.

The 2020 Freightliner Cascadia also comes with Detroit’s IPM6 Intelligent Powertrain Management system, when paired with a DT12 12-speed automated manual transmission. It automatically adjusts to grade changes to balance engine load and braking power for better fuel economy and reduced wear on components.

Here is another look at how autonomous and driver-assist technologies are getting developed at Bosch.