Last June, we brought you news of TuSimple, a transportation company focused on driverless tech for trucks, completing a 950-mile (1,528-km) trip 10 hours faster than a human driver could. At the time, eighty percent of the journey was conducted by the autonomous system, while a human was at the wheel for the other 20 percent of the trip, and at the ready to take over the reins if anything faulted with the technology.
Now, according to a new press release, the same company has managed to run an 80-mile (129-km) route with absolutely no human on board. The run, which took place on December 22nd, saw the firm's autonomous semi-truck begin its journey from a large railyard in Tucson, Arizona, and end at a distribution center in the Phoenix metro area.
During the ride, TuSimple's Autonomous Driving System (ADS) tackled surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes. The drive lasted one hour and 20 minutes and marked the first time a class 8 autonomous truck operated on open public roads without any human intervention.
"By achieving this momentous technical milestone, we demonstrated the advanced capabilities of TuSimple's autonomous driving system and the commercial maturity of our testing process, prioritizing safety and collaboration every step of the way. This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale," said in a statement Cheng Lu, President, and CEO, TuSimple.
"This year, we were laser-focused on putting our technology through a rigorous test on open public roads under real-world conditions, and to see all our hard work and dedication come together is extremely rewarding."
The test ride is part of an ongoing program that will continue into 2022 and that sees the cooperation of the Arizona Department of Transportation, government regulators, and law enforcement. Back in 2019, another autonomous truck completed a 2800-mile (4506 km) journey from Tulare, California, to Quakertown, Pennsylvania, for Land O’Lakes in under three days to deliver butter.