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Jun 1, 2021

A Self-Driving Truck Got a Shipment Cross-Country 10 Hours Faster Than a Human Driver

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Self-driving cars are taking longer to come to market than many expected. In fact, it’s looking like they may be outpaced by pilotless planes and driverless trucks. A truck isn’t much different than a car, but self-driving technology is already coming in handy on long-haul trucking routes, as a recent cross-country trip showed.

Last month TuSimple, a transportation company focused on self-driving technology for heavy-duty trucks, shipped a truckload of watermelons from Arizona to Oklahoma using the truck’s autonomous system for over 80 percent of the journey. The starting point was Nogales, at Arizon’s southern end right on the border with Mexico. A human driver took the wheel for the first 60 miles or so, from Nogales to Tucson—but from there the truck went on auto-pilot, and not just for a little while. It drove itself all the way to Dallas, 950 miles to the east (there was a human safety driver on board the whole time, but not controlling the truck).

If you look at the most direct route, it’s pretty straightforward: there’s one fork where I-10 splits off and merges with I-20, but other than that, it’s straight on through ‘til morning. Literally, in this case; the truck drove the route in 14 hours and 6 minutes, as compared to the given estimate of the average time it takes a human to drive the same route—24 hours and 6 minutes.

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