Plus demonstrates truly driverless truck on Chinese highway
On-highway autonomous truck demonstrations still require drivers to be at the ready, sitting behind the wheel. But Plus has pushed such tests a step further.
In a recent test of SAE Level 4 technology, it ran a truck without a safety driver, teleoperator, or anyone else at the controls. And it expects to pilot a fully driverless truck for dedicated environments as early as 2022.
The most recent demonstration was conducted in China’s Yangtze Delta economic center, where Plus had secured a special permit for the trip on the newly built Wufengshan highway.
According to the company, the truck drove safely and smoothly in typical highway traffic.
“The demo shows the safety, maturity, and functionality of our technology, and we are excited to continue to work closely with our suppliers, fleet customers, and OEM partners to further develop, test, and refine a driverless product for commercial deployment,” said Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder and Plus COO, in a related press release.
SAE Level 4 represents a high level of automation where a vehicle can perform all driving functions under certain conditions.
Mass production of its PlusDrive system, which would still require drivers in the cab, is projected to start in the third quarter of 2021.
Plus demonstrated its first Level 4 system at China’s Qingdao port in April 2018.
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“Under certain conditions” as per article. New highway – clear conditions – great for long haul on good highways and weather. What about February snow storm north of Superior when you can’t see the nice painted lines or stretch of new pavement or construction where there is no paint? And who is to open the doors? I’m not worried about drivers losing any jobs – but I would worry for dispatchers and customer service reps. Because while the truck is on a “super” highway – I can pivot my seat away from the steering wheel and do work at a work station normally done by dispatch etc. However, the new modern driver will have to be computer literate, have basic training in logistics as well as customer service. “Billy-Bob” super cowboy trucker in a week-old stained sleeveless shirt and poor communication skills won’t be able to get top dollar. There is a lot more to being a professional driver than just shifting gears.