Video: A spin around DTNA's new test track

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My first reaction when I got out of the truck was relief I had only eaten a small lunch. That is generally good advice when visiting test tracks around the country operated by equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

It was a particularly good idea at the opening of High Desert Proving Grounds last week in Madras, OR. While Daimler Trucks North America called its new facility a key component in the testing of platooning and autonomous vehicles, the highlight of the test course was its reliability and durability features.

Over the track’s 3.5 miles of engineered surfaces are nine concrete test events, comprised of 379 precast panels. They are meant to simulate almost any road surface a Freightliner or Western Star truck could encounter in the real world. 

Included in this blog are two videos from my test ride. Each event provided a slightly different feel - I thought of it as changing the settings on a washing machine. These jarring driving events are how DTNA said it can simulate a typical vehicle’s service life in about six months of testing.

My driver, a DTNA engineer based at the company’s headquarters in Portland, OR, said he had lost count how many times he’d been around the track by late afternoon. That morning, he knew enough to take a couple Aleve before getting behind the wheel.

Seeing the enjoyment on his face as he drove me around, it was clear having access to this new facility was a worthy trade-off for the possibility of a little pain.

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