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TuSimple Completes First Fully Autonomous Semi-Truck Run on Public Roads

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December 29, 2021

TuSimple, which develops autonomous driving technology, has announced it successfully completed the world’s first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, and without human intervention. Taking place on December 22, the run involved a TuSimple upfitted autonomous semi-truck leaving a railyard in Tucson, Ariz., and traveling more than 80 miles on surface streets and highways at night, safely arriving at a high-volume distribution center in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The company said that its Autonomous Driving System (ADS) was successful in navigating surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles and highway lane changes in open traffic, while naturally interacting with other motorists. 

The company said the one-hour and 20-minute drive was 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 trip was part of an ongoing test program that will continue into 2022. TuSimple said the test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement officials.

“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. 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 implemented a survey vehicle to look for anomalies operating more than 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.

The company added that its “Driver Out” pilot program is the result of 1.5 years of work to develop a Level 4 autonomous semi-truck with the level of redundancy, reliability, and consistency to safely take the driver out on public roads. The test was the first step in scaling autonomous trucking operations on the company’s Autonomous Freight Network (AFN).

Additional details of the company’s safety framework can be downloaded here.

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