Here, a driverless truck drives on a busy motorway

Almost 130 kilometers on the motorway in the dark, with ambient traffic, traffic lights, driveways and exits – without any people in the truck. It is the startup Tusimple’s latest milestone.

– We feel very confident in being the first to commission autonomous trucks on a large commercial scale, says Cheng Lu, CEO of Tusimple, to the site Techcrunch.

Earlier this year, it became known that Scania would operate the E4 with trucks that can drive themselves. The tests, which have been going on ever since, are carried out in collaboration with Tusimple. The tests include Level 4 technology on SAE’s five-point scale for self-driving vehicles.

But in those tests, a driver is behind the wheel, as well as a test engineer next to him.

Tusimple’s own – and, according to the company itself, historic – run was carried out on December 22 on a stretch between Tuscon and Phoenix in the US state of Arizona. The route was, of course, carefully selected: on the one hand, it forms part of a heavy freight route between California and Florida. In addition, self-driving vehicles are not as tightly regulated in Arizona. It is in Phoenix, for example, that Waymo has been operating a driverless taxi fleet since October 2020.

Whether it can be counted as historically can be discussed. In August performed company Plus a similar drive on a highway in China.

In any case, according to Cheng Lu, it’s not a big deal to let go of a truck without a driver on a highway.

– We are talking about a vehicle of 40 tons that drives on the highway at over 100 km / h. It is much harder to control, harder to brake. The implications for security and reliability are significantly higher, he tells Techcrunch.

Orders for almost 7000 vehicles

The truck that had the honor of driving itself is a rebuilt model from Navistar, but Tusimple’s ambition is to work with partners – including Traton Group, which includes Scania – to develop trucks specifically designed for autonomous operation. The startup already has orders for almost 7,000 vehicles.

Parts of Tusimple’s fleet. Photo: Tusimple

But even if technological development is rapid, it is still important to convince the public that self-driving vehicles can be trusted. Although the test in Arizona did not require any human intervention, the security crackdown was extensive.

Among other things, civilian police drove a bit behind the truck, and about eight kilometers in front of the Navistar truck, another vehicle was driving on reconnaissance after unexpected deviations.

– It takes time to build the trust needed to get this industry moving in the right direction. That is why it is important to take many precautions, says Cheng Lu.

Source: Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by

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