Autonomous truck completes USA’s first commercial freight run across the country

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Self-driving trucking technology developer Plus.ai has completed the first coast-to-coast commercial freight run across the USA by an autonomous truck, with the SAR Level 4 vehicle completing the trip in under three days.

Spanning 2,800 miles (4,506km), Plus.ai’s L4 autonomous truck completed the hub-to-hub trip from Tulare in California to Quakertown in Pennsylvania on behalf of the Land O’Lakes Inc. butter and dairy produce company in less than three days. This is the USA’s first L4 autonomous cross-country commercial pilot hauling a fully-loaded refrigerated trailer of perishable cargo. The truck was equipped with Plus.ai’s advanced self-driving system that uses multimodal sensor fusion, deep learning visual algorithms, and simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technologies. The journey was an important milestone in validating the system’s ability to safely handle a wide range of weather and road conditions.

The vehicle drove primarily in autonomous mode through the 2,800 miles across Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, passing through varied terrains and weather conditions. A safety driver was onboard at all times to monitor and assume control if needed, and a safety engineer was present to monitor system operations. On its continuous cross-country journey, the Plus.ai autonomous truck safely navigated driving day and night through the expansive plains of Kansas, winding roads of the Rocky Mountains, road construction zones, multi-mile tunnels, over 11,000 feet (3,353m) elevation, and was greeted with rainy and snowy roads heading east. The company notes that this is a powerful demonstration of the safety and efficiency that can be achieved when autonomous trucks become commercially available.

Founded in 2016 and based in California with R&D offices in China, Plus.ai specializes in providing full-stack artificial intelligence (AI) self-driving technology to enable large scale autonomous commercial transport. The company is currently working with some of the leading truck manufacturers, shippers, and top fleet operators in the USA and China.

“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. We are excited to demonstrate what our technology can already achieve today while meeting rigorous autonomous driving safety and food transportation compliance standards.”

Yone Dewberry, Land O’Lakes’ chief supply chain officer, said, “Self-driving and other emerging transportation technologies stand to completely reshape commercial shipping, so we are thrilled to collaborate with technology leaders like Plus.ai to pilot autonomous trucks for our shipping needs. End of the year is a very busy time for us. To be able to address this peak demand with a fuel- and cost-effective freight transport solution will be tremendously valuable to our business.

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.

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