Delivery robots, robotaxis and robo-trucks have become a normal sight in Silicon Valley. 1,400 autonomous vehicles and two robotic taxi fleets are on the road in California alone, although most of them still have safety drivers on board who are supposed to intervene in an emergency.
But now the development is gaining speed, with several companies having driverless licenses and now actually using them. One company, TuSimple, conducted its first 80 miles (140-kilometer) drive in Arizona without a driver on board. The trip went from Tucson to Phoenix via rural roads and highway. In a statement the company said the following:
On December 22nd, TuSimple made history by becoming the first to successfully test a fully autonomous semi-truck on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention. The run took place the evening of December 22nd 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, 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 has released an uncut video of the entire night drive, which lasted just under 80 minutes, with camera angles to the front and rear, as well as directly from the driver’s cabin. A look at the software screen can also be seen, showing what the vehicle’s sensors see.
This article was also published in German.