Silicon Valley self-driving technology provider, Plus.ai, has completed the first coast-to-coast commercial freight run with an autonomous semi it announced this week.
The trip on behalf of Land O'Lakes spanned 4,500 kilometres from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania across 12 states in less than three days making the landmark trip the first Level 4 autonomous cross-country commercial vehicle pilot fully loaded with a refrigerated trailer.
A distance equivalent to traveling from Perth to the Sunshine Coast, the cross-country journey on interstates 15 and 70 was replete with a wide range of weather conditions from hot, icy, mountainous and dry, taking in the plains of Kansas, winding roads of the Rockies, multi-mile tunnels and working as high as 11,000 feet in elevation.
Ambient temperatures varied, over the course of the journey, between -9C and 21C.
Equipped with Plus.ai's autonomous driving system said to utilise multimodal sensor fusion, deep learning visual algorithms and simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technologies, the truck, an International LT-Series Class 8 had, as occupants, a safety driver and safety engineer monitoring it all time.
“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, Plus.ai.COO and Co-Founder.
“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.”
Land O’Lakes’ Chief Supply Chain Officer Yone Dewberry, whose 18 tonnes of butter was transported during the milestone pilot, said self-driving and other emerging transportation technologies stand to completely reshape commercial shipping.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with technology leaders like Plus.ai to pilot autonomous trucks for our shipping needs,” he said.
“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.”
Founded in 2016, Plus.ai maintains R&D offices in the US and China where it is currently working with leading truck manufacturers, shippers and fleet operators.