The path to completely autonomous trucks is long and twisty, but it is not impossible, and it appears to be closer than completely self-driving cars.
According to SingularityHub, proof of this came in the shape of a self-driving long-haul truck that drove a load of watermelons from Arizona to Oklahoma last month.
TuSimple, a transportation firm focused on autonomous technology for trucks, was in charge of the achievement. The autonomous system drove for 80% of the route, or 950 miles (1,528 km), with a person behind the wheel for the remaining 20% of the cross-country trip, ready to take over if anything went wrong with the technology.
Delivery times are shorter
Given that heavy-duty trucks move more slowly than cars, have specific speed limits, and truckers must frequently stop not only for food and toilet breaks, but also because they are only permitted to travel for 11 hours from every 14 hours on the road, the trip took about 10 hours less than with a human driver at the wheel.
According to SingularityHub, the trip was cut from nearly 24 hours to 14 hours and six minutes.
When transporting fresh commodities, such as TuSimple’s watermelon-laden truck, timing is crucial. Because the watermelons arrive a day earlier, they are on store shelves sooner after being picked, resulting in less waste and a better customer experience, leading to people purchasing more watermelons in the future. As a result, TuSimple claims that revenue for farmers and retailers would grow.
But there is one question that remains unanswered. If self-driving trucks can constantly run without stopping but still need a human on board in case of an emergency or to drive on trickier, narrower routes, do they not need to stop for rest? We’ll have to wait and watch what happens when driverless trucks gain traction on the market.
Then there’s the issue of employment. What will happen to truckers’ jobs if this sort of technology becomes popular? Another question that has yet to be answered.
TuSimple’s self-driving system
TuSimple’s autonomous technology has been designed for highway driving. The firm now has about 20 clients that rely on semi-autonomous vehicles, so they’re well prepared for future completely autonomous customers.
The business is working on Level 4 completely autonomous driving solutions for heavy-duty trucks that are commercially ready. According to the company’s news announcement, its technologies employ artificial intelligence to assist vehicles in seeing 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) away, work virtually constantly, and spend 10% less energy than manually operated trucks.
“We believe that the food business is one of several that will profit substantially from the usage of TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology,” said Jim Mullen, TuSimple’s Chief Administrative Officer.
“Because autonomous trucks can run practically constantly without stopping, fresh food may be transported from origin to destination faster, resulting in fresher food and less waste.”