After 2,800 miles without incident, an autonomous truck became the first to complete an autonomous cargo race across the country. The precious burden? 40,000 pounds of Land O & # 39; Lakes butter.
The L4 autonomous truck left Tulare, CA, en route to Quakertown, PA. In total, the trip took less than three days. According to Plus.ai, the company behind the autonomous technology stack that powered the truck, this is “the first US L4 commercial pilot to transport a refrigerated trailer fully loaded with perishable cargo.”
The truck was equipped with an impressive set of sensors, a deep learning algorithm and simultaneous location and mapping technologies (SLAM). Plus.ai provided the technology stack and is working with leading manufacturers to give autonomy to a truck industry that has been in trouble due to labor shortages.
The industry employs about 3.5 million drivers, but has had trouble attracting a new generation of drivers. At the same time, congestion costs the trucking industry more than $ 63 billion every year. There are also around 4,000 deaths and 10,000 injuries attributed to trucks each year, and drivers have failures in most cases. Autonomous vehicles could mitigate both problems.
The industry has been moving in that direction for some time. Freightliner received the first license to test a semi-autonomous truck on the road a few years ago, and in 2017 a truck became the first autonomous vehicle authorized for regular use on an American highway, albeit at low speeds.
The Plus.ai trip, on the other hand, was an important milestone since the truck was operating at highway speeds and was driving primarily autonomously through 2,800 miles across Interstate 15 and Interstate 70. On the way He experienced a variety of weather conditions.
“This cross country load with Land O & # 39; Lakes shows the safety, efficiency and maturity of our autonomous trucks, which are already delivering cargo to other partners several days a week,” says Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus. ai. “The continuous advances in our autonomous trucks will allow these fast cross-country races to be the norm in the future. We are excited to demonstrate what our technology can already achieve today while complying with the rigorous driving safety compliance standards. autonomous and food transportation. “
Conditions on the route included driving at night, winding roads through the Rocky Mountains, construction, long tunnels and rain and snow.
“Autonomous driving technologies and other emerging transportation technologies can completely reshape commercial shipping, so we are delighted to collaborate with technology leaders such as Plus.ai to drive autonomous trucks for our shipping needs,” said Yone Dewberry, Head of Land Supplies O & # 39; Lakes Chain Officer. “The end of the year is a very busy time for us. Being able to meet this maximum demand with a cost-effective and profitable freight transportation solution will be tremendously valuable for our business.”