Episode 91 - The Gentle Giant: Picking Daimler Truck's Brain About Smart Trucks

The average 18-wheeler on America’s roads is an engineering marvel, roughly 17 tons (not including freight) of transportation muscle that powers our economy and our way of life. As the old saying goes, “If you bought it, trucks brought it.”  

Picture in your mind one of these behemoths barreling down the highway—with no driver.

Can you imagine a world where that’s the safest vehicle on the road?

Daimler Truck can, and they’re working night and day to deliver on the vision of fully autonomous trucks transforming the industry, while improving the health, safety, and quality of life of truck drivers and creating new career paths in the mobility sector.

To explain how we’ll get there, SAE Tomorrow Today spoke with Dr. Rainer Müller-Finkeldei, Senior Vice President of Engineering & Technology at Daimler Truck North America. As the global market leader in heavy duty trucking with 40% market share in the US, Daimler Truck literally is trucking’s heavyweight champion of the world. Now they’re setting their sights on the future of trucking – autonomy, electrification, zero emissions, and the development of hydrogen fuel cells for the long haul. In this episode, Dr. Müeller-Finkeldei elaborates on these efforts, as well as the work that Daimler Truck is doing with development partners Torc and Waymo, and what the company is doing to promote sustainability and more.

Stay up to date on the latest news from Daimler Truck North America.

Meet Our Guest


Senior Vice President, Engineering & Technology, Daimler Truck North America

As Senior Vice President, Engineering & Technology, Dr. Rainer Müller-Finkeldei oversees all DTNA product engineering activities, including design, testing, styling, analysis, compliance, and planning functions.

Müller-Finkeldei has held increasing roles of responsibility across Daimler business units and engineering functions since joining Daimler’s research labs in 1995. Most recently, he served as Head of Mechatronics at Mercedes-Benz Trucks in Germany after roles with Daimler Trucks, Daimler Vans, and Daimler’s research and technology department.

Müller-Finkeldei holds a PhD and Master’s degree in Computer Science and Physics from the Julius-Maximilians University of Wurzburg, Germany. He studied computer science at both the University of Würzburg and The University of Texas at Austin.

Our Host


Innovation Strategist & Co-Founder, Brulte & Company

Grayson Brulte is an autonomous mobility advisor and consultant who provides strategic counsel and political insights to help clients navigate what’s next.

As an SAE strategic partner since 2017, Grayson brings his in-depth industry knowledge to host SAE Tomorrow Today. His unique perspective factors in economics, politics and technology into one-of-kind weekly conversations with innovators changing mobility and its impact on society.

Grayson is a thought-leader who regularly provides insights to publications including Bloomberg, Reuters, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and Forbes. His written opinions and insights have been featured by organizations including the Consumer Technology Association in presentations to the Federal Trade Commission.

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