June 19, 2023
Despite its recent problems in the United States, self-driving trucking company TuSimple is making progress in other parts of the world.
The firm has announced that it has begun Level 4 autonomous testing on a major freight corridor in Japan.
And in China, it has become one of the first companies to obtain a license for fully driverless testing in the Pudong area of Shanghai.
The breakthroughs come after a harrowing few months for TuSimple, which have seen two major restructures.
In December, hundreds of staff were made redundant and this was followed by another major cull in May that saw 300 U.S. employees lose their jobs – around 30% of its global workforce. It made clear at the time its focus would be on exploring freight opportunities in Asia-Pacific markets.
The testing in Japan is taking place on the Tomei Expressway, a route that hit the headlines earlier this year when it was confirmed that it is to feature a lane reserved for use by autonomous haulage vehicles.
Level 4 autonomous driving – defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers as when a vehicle drives itself in specific scenarios with no intervention from a human driver – has been incorporated into traffic law in the country, and the Japanese government is keen to accelerate its rollout over the next decade amid rising concerns over a national driver shortage.
It is believed commercial operations of Level 4 trucks could start as early as 2026.
Addressing TuSimple’s plans for Japan, Cheng Lu, President and CEO, said: “We aim to actively build business partnerships with local companies and develop the technology that will meet local customer demand. We are dedicated to providing the most reliable, safe and efficient autonomous truck solutions for the long-haul transportation industry.”
It is understood that TuSimple intends to progress from tests on the Tomei Expressway to full runs between Tokyo and Osaka – a distance in excess of 300 miles – later this year. Two trucks fitted with TuSimple’s Domain Controller are currently being tested, with plans for these to be joined by more vehicles over the next few months.
In China, meanwhile, TuSimple says it will conduct fully autonomous, driverless testing in Shanghai’s designated test areas of Yangshan Deep-water Port and Donghai Bridge. Shanghai is set to become the first city in China to pass legislation to allow Level 4 fully driverless testing of autonomous trucks.
TuSimple was awarded the license after a series of validation tests that included closed area and open road assessments over thousands of miles, without human intervention.
The company says it has accumulated test mileage of more than 372,800 miles in China, with no accidents or road violations.
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