Among the top companies that develop autonomous trucks, TuSimple, a startup based in San Diego, is attempting to get ahead of the competition by utilizing its unique technology and strategic partnerships. In cooperation with UPS shipping and truck manufacturer Navistar, TuSimple has been performing depot-to-depot autonomous test runs in Texas and Arizona.
These tests are being conducted under what the company calls supervised autonomy, in which a truck driver is inside the truck and will take the wheel only when necessary. Sometime this year, however, the startup is planning to eliminate the human element and allow trucks to drive themselves during pickups and deliveries.
How Self-Driving Trucks Work
Autonomous or self-driving trucks implement similar tech used in self-driving cars. These include sensors, usually in the form of radars, lidars, and cameras, which feed data to computers that control the truck and utilize skills learned via an enormous amount of simulation and training. In principle, it is easier to develop self-driving trucks than self-driving cars.
The reason for this is that, unlike cars, trucks generally travel fixed routes on highways that are easier and more predictable to drive on than surface roads. Trucks are likewise an inherently better platform than cars for autonomy due to their big size that provides a better view for the sensors and increased power for computers.
50 TuSimple self-driving trucks have been transporting cargo between freight depots in San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, El Paso, Dallas, and Tucson. While these trucking routes are roughly 95% highway, the autonomous trucks can also drive themselves on surface roads without problems, hauling their cargo the entire way from one depot to another.
Are Self-Driving Trucks Safe?
Self-driving trucks must be capable of sensing conditions from afar to enable longer and more controlled stopping distances. TuSimple utilizes multiple HD cameras capable of looking 1,000 meters ahead when possible. The computer system then detects other vehicles on the road and calculates their path at that distance, which is about twice as far as truck drivers can see while they’re driving.
TuSimple states that this capability provides their system more time for making decisions regarding the most efficient and safest way to navigate the road. The autonomous trucks also do not use their brakes as often as driver-operated trucks, resulting in fuel economy improvement of approximately 10%. Reduced side-to-side movements and steadier driving also provide extra efficiency gains while reducing tire wear as well. In addition, driverless trucks could be especially useful to the long haul trucking sector, which is facing difficulties in retaining and recruiting drivers.
Consult An Experienced Vernon, CT Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a truck accident, whether with a standard truck or a self-driving truck, contact Berman & Russo for legal guidance. Our Vernon, CT truck accident lawyers can help you learn about your legal options and sources of compensation for your damages. Schedule your free case consultation by calling 860-644-1548 or filling out our online form.