TuSimple today announced it successfully completed what it claims 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 trip took place in Arizona Dec. 22. The truck left from a large railyard in Tucson and traveled more than 80 miles on surface streets and highways at night to a high-volume distribution center in the Phoenix metro area. The company says its truck "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 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 in the vehicle and without human intervention. The company said the test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement.
"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 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 said it 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 trailing behind, and law enforcement vehicles following at a distance of 0.5 miles as an extra layer of safety precaution.
The company said this test was a critical first step in scaling autonomous trucking operations on the TuSimple Autonomous Freight Network.