Semi-automated semis on their way

Get ready! At least two automakers are getting ready to start selling partially-automated semis, Industry Week reports.

Daimler AG will start selling a heavy-duty truck in the U.S. this year that’s able to brake, accelerate and steer at all speeds on its own. This will coincide with the planned launch of electric-car leader Tesla Inc.’s Semi truck, which will stoke competition among diesel and battery trucks alike at a time when demand in North America is forecast to soften.

Taking the next step toward more automation could help freight haulers manage the strain of rising deliveries from online shopping amid a persistent shortage of drivers. But investments required to overcome technical hurdles are substantial.

The updated combustion-engine-powered Freightliner Cascadia, which also will have lane-keeping assistance, fuses information from radar and cameras to enable partially autonomous technology, Daimler said Monday at the CES in Las Vegas. To maintain its lead over the likes of Volvo AB and Paccar Inc., the manufacturer said it plans to offer within a decade highly automated vehicles, which don’t need drivers, on some routes.

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