Land O’Lakes recently enlisted Plus.ai, a three-year-old Cupertino, California-based startup, to haul a truckload of butter from California to Pennsylvania. Onboard the semi-truck was a safety driver who was ready to take over driving duties in case the truck encountered a situation it couldn’t handle, along with a safety engineer who was aboard for observation purposes.
Like most other companies in the space, Plus.ai’s truck uses cameras, radar, and lidar to handle the different road and weather conditions. The truck took scheduled breaks, but for the most part, drove autonomously, with no “disengagements” or situations when a human had to take over the driving duty. Plus.ai has been making freights trips roughly every week for the past year, but this was its first long distance trip that it is able to discuss publicly.
Plus.ai is one of about 10 – 15 companies in the U.S. working on autonomous freight deliveries, including TuSimple, which we’ve previously blogged about. With the ongoing driver shortage in the trucking industry (although the recent bankruptcy of Celadon has left many drivers looking for jobs), many industry observers (this one included) believe that the trucking industry will be the first to adopt and roll out autonomous technology on a commercial scale. The lack of cohesive federal regulations continues to be a hindrance on the development of autonomous technology, as developers are forced to deal with a patchwork quilt of regulations that vary state-to-state.
In the meantime, if you are a traditional motor carrier facing issues related to freight, accidents, or insurance coverage, please contact any member of our nationally-recognized Transportation Team.