Daimler presents what the German automaker says is the ''world premiere of the first automated truck'' driving on a public highway. Amy Pollock reports.
Look - no hands! German automaker Daimler shows off its first semi-autonomous truck. Cruising on auto-pilot along a busy highway near Stuttgart at speeds of up to 80 km per hour, Daimler is testing its Actros model. The firm had special permission - and a police escort - from the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DAIMLER'S HEAD OF TRUCKS AND BUSES DIVISION, WOLFGANG BERNHARD, SAYING: "I can take my hands off the wheel and as you can see, the steering is smooth and the vehicle remains on track." The 430 horsepower truck features a radar and sensors and is controlled by an auto pilot similar to those used in planes, according to Daimler. State prime minister Winfried Kretschmann sat in the passenger seat. Reassuringly, if weather conditions worsen or road markings are missing, the system asks the driver to take the wheel again. And even better, the truck stops if the driver does not react. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DAIMLER'S HEAD OF TRUCKS AND BUSES DIVISION, WOLFGANG BERNHARD, SAYING: "Clients are very interested. The public too is interested. Contrary to our expectations, politicians too are ready to set the framework conditions a lot more quickly. So we are very happy about the progress and it makes us confident that we can enter the series production rather sooner than later." So it seems hands-free driving could be seen on German roads soon.