The Longest Trip an Autonomous Truck Has Taken As of 2022
It is no secret that autonomous trucking has come a long way in the past decade, but also that it has at least a decade of development still left to go. This demands the question as to how far along autonomous trucks have come now. What is the longest ongoing stretch of distance an autonomous car has driven without human intervention? Here is what we found.
Going Bananas for Watermelons
In May 2021, TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology delivered watermelons from Nogales, Arizona, to Oklahoma City. While the first few and final few miles were operated by a professional driver (who also was at the helm in case something went wrong, which it did not), but once the truck hit the highways, the truck did the rest. In total, the truck covered 900 miles on its own.
The most recent news to come out of autonomous trucking as of the writing of this article is that Wener and Kodiak Robotics have partnered together to have trucks travel from Dallas to Lake City, Florida. Using practical miles, the trip takes into the high nine hundreds of miles and is pushing 1,000. It is likely we will see the 1,000 mile threshold of consecutive autonomous trucking conquered in 2023, though some ambitious company may try to take the achievement before the end of 2022.
The End Goal
Surface streets are the hardest thing for self-driving trucks to manage, and is why we will not see fully autonomous trucks anytime soon. However, the majority of miles, done on highways, would be easier to manage.
Once a self-driving truck can travel the entire 3,000-plus miles of I-90 by itself, aside from stopping for fuel and food for the human driver, then the trucking industry will likely start focusing on nuances, such as stopping for fuel and food for the human driver.
One potential temporary solution would be to create established “boarding” and “disembarking” stations for human drivers. For example, a human could drive the truck out of Long Beach Port until he reaches a station near I-15, exit the vehicle, and send it on its merry way to Las Vegas, while also hopping into a different truck that has just finished traveling from Las Vegas and steering it back to the port. Human drivers would certainly have shorter commutes and be able to make it home every night!
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