A startup called Plus.ai has undertaken the first commercial freight cross-country run by a self-driving truck. The autonomous vehicle completed a 4506-km journey from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania for Land O’Lakes in under three days.
All safety measures were taken to ensure a smooth ride including providing a backup driver and an engineer on board. The truck was delivering butter and as such time was of the essence.
“We wanted to demonstrate the safety, reliability, and maturity of our overall system,” said Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder, and chief operating officer of the company told The Mercury News.
The truck was equipped with cameras, radar and lidar to cope with a variety of terrains and weather conditions. Although it took scheduled breaks, the COO reported the vehicle never had to be suspended because of a problem.
The truck made its run during peak butter time, a key time for butter deliveries. “To be able to address this peak demand with fuel- and cost-effective freight transport solution will be tremendously valuable to our business,” said Yone Dewberry, the butter maker’s chief supply officer, in a statement.
Other autonomous trucks
This is not the only autonomous truck to undertake such an ambitious mission. Last month, Starsky Robotics drove its first driverless truck on a Florida highway.
The firm used a system where the vehicle was driven remotely by people behind a steering wheel — miles away from the road. Autonomous vehicles are becoming all the rage with carmakers such as Volvo announcing the addition of autonomous transport businesses as early as 2020.
What do you think of this autonomous vehicle trend? Is it an exciting way to make journeys safer and more sustainable or a risky endeavor?