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Autonomous Trucks May Become a Reality Really Soon

Autonomous trucks may be a reality in a very near future with start-ups such as Einride and TuSimple as well as established firm Traton working diligently to make it happen. [1,2,3]

Einride has raised $25 million that will be used to hire more people, invest in their software platform and fund their expansion into the US market. The self-driving truck start-up has stated that they have signed agreements with large U.S.-based retail companies without specifying which companies. Einride already has a commercial pilot with DB Schenker. [1]

Another autonomous trucking start-up making moves towards expanding their business is TuSimple. TuSimple have stated that they soon will begin partnering on real-world autonomous commercial freight deliveries without any person inside their vehicle. Their CPO has made a public statement saying that they will soon have commercial freight deliveries, where the company will receive a portion of the revenue. What carrier they will use have yet not been disclosed. [2]

Moreover, it is not only start-ups that are making major moves. Traton (part of the Volkswagen Group with brands including MAN and Scania) have also announced that they are working on a common platform for autonomous driving.  The firm has announced that they have several vehicles being tested or are in real use. In a few months, MAN is also planning to kick off large-scale practical testing together with the port of Hamburg. The trucks will drive highly automated on the highway in some sections to the port. Upon arrival, the driver will get out of the vehicle, and the truck will continue to drive autonomously to the Altenwerder container terminal. After the truck autonomously unloads, the truck will then drive back to the driver on its own. [3]

 

Personal comments

Trucks are often neglected when the conversation of autonomation is brought up. However, with the rise of for instance e-commerce, their impact on the transportation system (while not always visible) is very profound. Also, with trucks mostly driving their longest routes on highways where there are no pedestrians, stoplights or other obstacles on the road, they are promising for automation. What will, however, be needed is a cohesive regulatory framework that would enable autonomous trucks to drive across country borders.  

 

Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE Viktoria.

 

Source

1. 2019-10-10. Autonomous trucking startup Einride eyes US market with $25 million in new funding

2. 2019-10-10. TuSimple plans freight deliveries without drivers in 2021

3. 2019-10-07. Traton plans to invest more than €1 billion into autonomous and digital innovations