There’s been lots of talk in recent years surrounding the world of truck driving and automation. It’s a touchy subject for some, but it’s something that only seems inevitable with the development of more intuitive technology. Don’t get me wrong: The majority use of fully self-driving semi-trucks is still decades away from reality, but it’s stories like this that make you realize the advances that are being made in the meantime.
TuSimple is among one of the many technology companies working toward this goal of full automation. Recently, they put one of their self-driving trucks to the test, and it did surprisingly well. The semi completed a trip hauling watermelons from Arizona to Oklahoma in just 14 hours and 6 minutes. To put that in perspective, a human driver would take around 24 hours to complete that trip. That’s a 10-hour difference in time, simply because commercial drivers are required to stop after 11 hours of driving to take a 10-hour break. With self-driving technology, these trucks can keep on rolling.
That said, even though TuSimple’s truck is classified as self-driving, supervision is still required at this time. Additionally, for this particular experiment, the self-driving technology was only in control of the semi truck for around 80 percent of the trip. It does fantastic on the highway portions, but a human driver took over control during the remaining 20 percent at both the beginning of the trip and the end to navigate more densely populated city areas. Regardless, the fact the truck completed just under 1,000 miles on its own without any issue is rather impressive.
Think about it: The impact of these shortened trip times could be beneficial for practically everyone around the country. Of course, we’re a long ways away from actually seeing this type of transportation on a larger scale. With all the technological and safety hurdles these companies will be forced to conquer, it’s a challenging implementation to say the least. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out in the long run, but this is pretty clear evidence of progress.