An autonomous truck has made the 2,400-mile trip from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida. According to Embark, this trip sets the bar for what is possible with its autonomous technology.
Last year, Embark announced that it was running the longest self-driving truck route in the world. The company was delivering appliances for Electrolux from Los Angeles to El Paso. This new route is about four times longer.
According to Embark, the goal isn’t to replace drivers entirely, but rather to let autonomous trucks pilot themselves on highways, then use drivers to navigate on/off ramps and local roads.
For this trip however, Embark had a driver sitting in the driver’s seat, ready to take the wheel at all times. According to TechCrunch, Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues claims that “the vast majority of the driving was autonomous,” but drivers did intervene occasionally.
Because of this, the drivers followed hours of service regulations, meaning the trip took 5 days instead of the two days that Embark claims will be possible in the future.
As a self-driving truck company, Embark is a bit different than some of its competitors. They don’t manufacture their own trucks, but rather work to integrate their self-driving systems into others.
Their so-called “sensor suite” consists of five cameras, three long-range radars, and at least two lidar sensors. This allows their trucks to map its surroundings in real-time instead of relying on “pre-mapped” routes.
As for how the truck performed on its test run, the company isn’t releasing any firm details yet. According to Rodrigues, the truck ran in autonomous mode for “hours at a time with no disengagements, and when they did occur they were usually only a few seconds.”
In the past few months, Embark’s fleet grew from two to five trucks, and by the end of the year they hope to grow to a total of 40.