Last year, Otto made a 120-mile beer run. currently, Ryder and Frigidaire have partnered with autonomous trucking company Embark to deliver smart fridges from Texas to California. You know, thus you’ve got a place to store the brews. Embark thinks that freeways are the ideal test grounds for its autonomous efforts because there are not any traffic lights, pedestrians or oncoming traffic to deal with. that is sensible. All a truck has to do, basically, is keep in its lane, maintain speed and keep a safe distance from other cars.
The Level two autonomous semis (think: Tesla’s Autopilot and Cadillac’s Super Cruise) can have a driver behind the wheel for insurance, of course. but Embark’s systems are driving until the load reaches Palm Springs when a Ryder driver drops the trailers at a designated location in El Paso before the trip starts. From there, another Ryder driver can complete the last-mile trip. the reason for this push is one of available manpower. Or, in this case, a steady decline of it. 2 years ago, the American Trucking Association estimated that there can be a shortage of 175,000 drivers by 2024.
“More than 50 % of all drivers can retire in the next 20 years and there are not nearly enough young drivers connection this industry to replace them,” Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues said in a statement. “By allowing automation to work together with local drivers to handle less desirable long run routes, we’ll be able to increase productivity to deal with the present 50,000 driver shortage while also making new local driving jobs that attract younger drivers for the industry.”
The pilot program has already completed a handful of the 650-mile journeys as of Oct, with more expected to follow. Rodrigues says that this is the 1st time somebody had demonstrated an end-to-end autonomous driving system for semis.
Commercial trucking is ripe for innovation. Diesel-maker Cummins declared an eV big rig in late August, and Tesla plans to launch its own alt-fuel variant in the week. Given the latter’s pushes into autonomous driving, it’s not a stretch to assume it will have self-driving trucks on the road for some purpose in the future also. Then there is Otto, Uber’s self-driving truck company.
While the corporate has been embroiled in a lawsuit with Uber over allegedly stolen trade secrets, it’s kept plugging away. In June Otto showed off its new trucks built with off-the-shelf 64-channel lidar arrays. You know, the kind from Velodyne — not Alphabet.