TuSimple is showing how its autonomous driving technology can make long-distance fresh food logistics more time-efficient amid efforts to achieve large-scale use of its technology in commercial trucking.
The startup, which splits its operations between China and the U.S., said on Wednesday that it tested its autonomous trucks on a watermelon transportation route more than 900 miles long from Nogales, Arizona, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and found that the rigs cut 10 hours off a trip that takes 24 hours with regular trucks and human drivers.
The result of the test, which it conducted with fresh produce grower Giumarra and Associated Wholesale Grocers earlier this month, could boost TuSimple’s confidence in fulfilling its plans to build a U.S.-based autonomous freight network consisting of shippers, carriers, railways, freight brokers and truck owners spanning 48 states by 2024.
Although the company did not break down the test journey in detail, the time saved is likely to consist of hours normally spent by human drivers on mandatory rest and sleep.
“We believe the food industry is one of many that will greatly benefit from the use of TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology,” said TuSimple Chief Administrative Officer Jim Mullen. “Given the fact that autonomous trucks can operate nearly continuously without taking a break, it means fresh produce can be moved from origin to destination faster, resulting in fresher food and less waste.”
It is important to note that human drivers were still needed to handle the pick-up and delivery of the watermelons, leaving the route’s long middle portion from Tucson, Arizona, to Dallas, Texas, for the autonomous trucks equipped with backup safety drivers, according to TuSimple. The trucks would have mainly driven on highways, an easy-to-achieve application of self-driving technology due to less complex road conditions.
TuSimple is developing Level 4 autonomous driving technology for trucks, which U.S. engineering standards group SAE International identifies as features that can drive a vehicle under certain conditions but will not operate unless all the conditions are met. The company has said that it aims to mass-produce Level 4-powered driverless trucks by 2024. Level 5 is the highest level of automation.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (email@example.com)