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Self-Driving Semi-Truck With Plus.ai Technology Completes First Coast-To-Coast Trip

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【Summary】Over three days, a Level 4 autonomous semi-truck with technology from Plus.ai completed a coast-to-coast delivery from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The trip included a full delivery of Land O’ Lakes butter.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Dec 14, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Self-Driving Semi-Truck With Plus.ai Technology Completes First Coast-To-Coast Trip

A lot of experts believe that autonomous semitrailers will be introduced before autonomous cars. Ferrying cargo from one location to another seems to be easier than ferrying passengers around. While multiple companies and automakers are looking to bring commercial semi-trucks to market, an 18-wheeler with technology from Plus.ai has become the first to complete a cross-country trip with cargo.

Butter Delivery Done Autonomously

In an announcement, Plus.ai claims that a semi-truck with the company's self-driving technology completed the industry's first commercial autonomous coast-to-coast haul. The 18-wheeler transported over 40,000 pounds of Land O' Lakes butter from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The journey was completed in three days and spanned 2,800 miles. The company states that this is the very first cross-country commercial pilot that saw a semi-autonomous semi-truck haul a refrigerated trailer full of perishable cargo.

The semi-truck came with Plus.ai's advanced autonomous driving system that's called SLAM, which refers to multimodal sensor fusion, simulations location and mapping tech, as well as deep learning visual algorithms. The suite of features endowed the semi-truck with Level 4 autonomous capabilities. Apparently, the tech was enough for the semi-truck to travel the majority of the journey in "autonomous mode." A safety driver was on-board the truck at all times just in case an issue arose.

"This cross-country freight run with Land O' Lakes shows the safety, efficiency and maturity of our autonomous trucks, which are already delivering freight for other partners several days a week," said Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus.ai. "Continued advances in our autonomous trucks will make it possible for these quick cross-country runs to be the norm in the future."

Autonomous Semis Are Set To Revolutionize Deliveries

There's no better way to test an autonomous vehicle than to take it on a cross-country trip across the United States. Along the way, the semi-truck experienced all sorts of weather conditions, over 11,000 feet elevation, nighttime driving, daytime driving, arrow-straight roads, and windy roads. Things must have gone well, because Plus.ai doesn't have any information on issues that came up.

Autonomous trucks are set to revolutionize the trucking industry. Without a human driver, autonomous semi-trucks will be able to make quicker deliveries, as humans require stops for breaks and food. If companies and automakers find a way to put even larger fuel tanks on semi-trucks, it's possible that they would never have to stop for fuel. Having an autonomous system that uses maps could even result in better fuel economy, as the semi-truck could anticipate changing road conditions and alter performance to match the road ahead.

If experts are to be believed, we'll be seeing autonomous semi-trucks on the road in the near future. And based on Plus.ai's incredible feat, there's a high chance that an autonomous 18-wheeler could feature the company's technology.

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