TuSimple, a global autonomous driving technology company, successfully completed what it says is the world’s first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention. The run took place on Dec. 22 and required TuSimple’s upfitted autonomous semi-truck to begin its journey from a large railyard in Tucson, Arizona, and travel more than 80 miles on surface streets and highways at night, safely arriving at a high-volume distribution center in the Phoenix metro area. Along the journey, TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System (ADS) successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.
TuSimple says 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 in the vehicle and without human intervention and is part of an ongoing test program that will continue into 2022. The test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. The autonomous driving test was 100% operated by TuSimple’s ADS without a human on-board, without remote human control of the vehicle, and without traffic 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 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.”
To ensure public safety, TuSimple worked closely with government regulators and law enforcement and implemented a TuSimple survey vehicle to look for anomalies operating over five miles 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 as an extra layer of safety precaution.
TuSimple’s “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).