Autonomous trucks may drive themselves down the road. But that doesn’t mean they don’t require driver training to operate safely. To meet this emerging need, autonomous technology developer TuSimple has formed a partnership with Pima Community College in Tuscon, Arizona, to launch what it says is the first autonomous driving certificate program for truck drivers.
The Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist program will equip truck drivers with the knowledge and skills to expand their roles in this new and rapidly expanding industry. The certificate will prepare individuals for jobs such as training the autonomous system as test drivers, operating the vehicle in situations where autonomous driving is not suitable, and remotely monitoring the system from a command center.
The Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist certificate program will teach experienced truck drivers how to operate and work with autonomous trucks in as quickly as one semester. The program requires a Class A commercial driver’s license prior to enrollment, as drivers will build on their trucking knowledge with each course.
TuSimple and Pima Community College co-created a curriculum for the certificate program that comprises five courses:
- Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles
- Industrial Safety
- Computer Hardware Components
- Electrical Systems I
- Transportation and Traffic Management
TuSimple will prioritize hiring graduates of the certificate program for jobs at its Tucson testing and development center.
The program will be offered at Pima Community College in Tucson starting in September; registration will begin in August. Once launched, Pima Community College and TuSimple will collaborate with other schools interested in offering the same program.
“It’s clear that the future of truck transportation will offer new employment opportunities for today’s drivers but it will require a set of new skills,” said Lee Lambert, Chancellor, Pima Community College. “Working with TuSimple to develop this Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist certificate program ensures our students will build competencies in multiple areas – from logistics and information technology to automated industrial technology. These areas are being transformed by autonomy and drivers will need training in order to interact with autonomous trucks.”
“In keeping with TuSimple’s mission to create the safest autonomous driving fleet, an essential aspect of the training program is to ensure that drivers have access to appropriate training for this new technology and employment opportunities,” said Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple founder, president and chief technology officer. “We commend Pima Community College for offering this innovative and exciting program that can help address the acute driver shortage. The program offers driving professionals a smooth transition into an emerging field that requires different skill sets in addition to existing truck driving knowledge by providing training.”
For information or to enroll, call Pima Community College’s Center for Transportation Training at 520-206-2744.