Autonomous truck developer Plus.ai has announced a new safety testing program that it says will enable self-driving trucks to drive on public roads anywhere in the continental United States by the end of this year.
According to the company, the new safety program will allow testing on closed courses, as well as public roads, with a safety driver and operations specialist on board to assume manual control if needed.
The company is exploring new testing facilities and pilot runs that will broaden the complex driving scenarios that its autonomous system is capable of handling.
“We want to build a technology solution that is applicable across different weather, terrains, and driving scenarios. Testing our trucks’ readiness means we need to put them through stringent safety tests, on every highway in the country. That is why we are committing to expand our testing to all states that allow autonomous vehicle testing by the end of this year,” said Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder, Plus.ai.
Plus.ai has already conducted testing of its autonomous trucks in 17 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. It claims to be the first autonomous trucking company to test in many of these states.
“We look forward to having Plus.ai test their autonomous trucks in Minnesota this winter. Safety innovation is a win for everyone in the transportation system,” said Kristin White, Executive Director of MnDOT’s Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles.
“The smart mobility ecosystem we’ve established in Ohio is a premier testing ground for autonomous vehicles. Ohio is excited to welcome leading autonomous trucking companies like Plus.ai to test at our state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure,” said Patrick Smith, interim executive director of DriveOhio.
Plus.ai said that it expects that the new testing sites and states will be selected by the end of first quarter in 2020, and implementation will take place through the rest of the year. Solving autonomous driving requires exposure to all kinds of long tail phenomena. The year-long effort will accelerate that process. Through this testing program, Plus.ai said it is also developing new metrics that can measure the readiness of its autonomous driving system for commercial deployment.