Autonomous driving technology company TuSimple announced that it has completed what it is calling the world’s first fully-autonomous semi-truck ride on open public roads without a human present in the vehicle and without human intervention.

TuSimple ($TSP) is a company focused on developing commercial-ready, fully autonomous (SAE Level 4) driving technology for long-haul heavy-duty trucks. It was founded in San Diego in 2015, where it is currently headquartered, but it also operates in Arizona, Texas, Europe, and China.

The company’s “Driver Out” pilot program has reached this pivotal moment after 1.5 years of effort to develop an L4 autonomous semi-truck with the level of redundancy, reliability, and consistency required to ensure its trucks can safely operate on public roads without the driver present.

TuSimple has stated that its “Driver Out” program is the first vital step in scaling its autonomous trucking operations on the TuSimple Autonomous Freight Network (AFN).

A robust AFN is now one step closer, following a successful 80-mile, driverless run in Arizona last week.

Autonomous Semi Truck
Footage from TuSimple’s Dec. 22nd autonomous ride / Source: TuSimple/YouTube

TuSimple brings L4 autonomous semi trucks one step closer to reality

TuSimple announced its successful driverless ride via a recent press release, along with YouTube footage of the entire one-hour twenty-minute drive.

The run occurred the evening of December 22, when a semi-truck rigged with TuSimple’s autonomous technology traveled over 80 miles on surface streets and highways from Tucson, Arizona, to a distribution center in the Phoenix metro area.

As you’ll see in the video below, TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System (ADS) successfully navigated traffic signals, on and off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic during the trip, all while naturally interacting with other vehicles on the road.

This autonomous driving test was solely operated by TuSimple’s ADS without a human on-board, and without any remote human control of the vehicle – the first class 8 autonomous semi-truck to do so on open public roads.

That being said, the test ride was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona DOT and local law enforcement, with a spotter driving five miles ahead and police half a mile behind. Tu Simple president and CEO Cheng Lu spoke to the recent feat:

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. 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.

This initial test is part of a larger pilot program for TuSimple that will continue into 2022. You can check out footage of the entire autonomous semi-truck ride below:

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Scooter Doll

Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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