Freightliner captured several “firsts” in its premier of the world’s first autonomous truck licensed to drive on public roads. Introduction of this historic achievement required a historic location and the company chose Hoover Dam. Then, adding to the history, Freightliner turned the surface of the dam into the largest projection screen in North American history. To do so required another “first,” an array of 60 projectors producing 1.17 lumens of light to set a new world’s record for projector power. Video projection mapping software, used to warp and mask a projected image, allowing images to fit onto irregularly shaped screens, was used to shape the display to the convex curve of the dam face.
The result was a display that covered more than 420,000 square feet on the face of the dam, nearly equal to the surface area of nine football fields.
Special scaffolding was constructed along the steep side of the Colorado River gorge, high above the area where water from Lake Mead is discharged after passing through electrical generating turbines, to contain the assembled crowd. The event was attended by more than 300 members of the press from 25 countries around the world.
Master of Ceremonies for the presentation was Rutledge Wood, one of the hosts of History Channel’s “Top Gear” program and former host of “NASCAR Trackside.” Wood spoke of the construction and history of the dam before turning the spotlight to Daimler executives.
“Putting the Freightliner Inspiration Truck on the road is an historic day for Daimler Trucks and the North American trucking industry,” said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Daimler Trucks & Buses. “Our team has done a marvelous job in bringing this breakthrough technology to the road.”
“Freightliner Trucks has been setting the standard for commercial vehicle design and technology for nearly 75 years,” said Martin Daum, President & CEO, Daimler Trucks North America. “Whether it was the first all-aluminum cab introduced in 1942 or the current industry-leading Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, we are inspired by meeting the challenges faced by our customers. Inspiration drives technology leadership and, ultimately, customer value. Our customers are our inspiration.”
Bernhard explained the choice of the location. “The Hoover Dam provides the ideal setting for a debut as significant to the trucking industry as this. Not only was it built primarily using trucks, but it signifies inspiration like few other structures in the world. To show the significance and opportunities of autonomous driving functions for the global trucking industry we were willing to go ways that people did not dare to think about before,” he said.
When the comments concluded, the crowd directed their attention to the hillside opposite the dam, where “#freightliner” was projected on the rocky cliff face. Photographers jockeyed for the best positions as, under its own control, the Inspiration made its way down the mountainside, around a hairpin turn, across the top of the dam and into history.
More information about the Inspiration, Freightliner's autonomous truck, can be found at freightlinerinspiration.com.
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