TuSimple Holdings Inc. today claimed that it has successfully completed the world's first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads. A semi-truck outfitted with TuSimple's autonomy system traveled more than 80 miles (128.7 km) from a railyard in Tucson, Ariz., on the night of Dec. 22, 2021, to a distribution center in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
“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,” said Cheng Lu, president and CEO of TuSimple. “This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale.”
Founded in 2015, TuSimple is developing SAE Level 4 commercial driving systems for fully autonomous, long-haul, heavy-duty trucks. The company said it is aiming to transform the $4 trillion global truck freight industry through its artificial intelligence technology, which enables autonomous vehicles to see 1,000 m (3,280.8 ft.) away, operate nearly continuously, and reduce fuel consumption by more than 10% in comparison with manually driven trucks.
San Diego-based TuSimple, which in April announced plans for a $1.1 billion initial public offering, has operations in Arizona, Texas, Europe, and China.
ADS takes the wheel with no human intervention
In the test journey, TuSimple's Autonomous Driving System (ADS) successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on and off ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.
TuSimple said the one-hour and 20-minute drive is the first time a Class 8 autonomous truck has operated on open public roads without a human onboard, without remote human control of the vehicle, and without traffic intervention.
To ensure public safety, TuSimple worked closely with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. The company also deployed a survey vehicle to look for anomalies operating over five miles (8 km) ahead, an oversight vehicle capable of putting the autonomous truck in a minimal risk condition (MRC) trailing behind, and law enforcement vehicles following at a distance of 0.5 miles (0.8 km) as an extra precaution.
TuSimple takes steps toward Autonomous Freight Network
TuSimple said its “Driver Out” pilot program is the culmination of 1.5 years of work to develop an L4 autonomous semi-truck with the level of redundancy, reliability, and consistency to safely take the driver out on public roads.
“This is a critical first step in scaling autonomous trucking operations on the TuSimple Autonomous Freight Network (AFN),” said the company.
“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,” said Lu.
The test drive was part of an ongoing test program that will continue into 2022.
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