We recently told you more about the safety-first approach for the world’s first Driver Out fully-autonomous runs of heavy-duty trucks on open public roads. We’d like you to experience the real driving scenarios our driverless truck software encountered during the runs and how the advanced software responds to maximize safety for the driver, environment, and potential cargo.
We consider the current version of our autonomous driving system to be “feature complete” which means the system has the capabilities needed for true Driver Out operations along a commercial route, and it is able to safely mitigate the required edge cases during operations. There are countless scenarios that our solution is designed to handle, many of which we experienced, and safely addressed, in the Driver Out runs.
Navigating dense traffic – Finding an opening in traffic for merging or changing lanes is challenging for large trucks. Our autonomous software constantly monitors traffic and predicts where openings will emerge. Based on these predictions, our software plans which openings to take in order to navigate to the best position for its next move such as passing a slower vehicle or exiting the highway.
Emergency Lane Vehicles – It takes special care for a heavy truck to pass vehicles stopped on the side of the highway. Our solution changes lanes to give more space to the emergency lane vehicle or if that isn’t possible, we slow down and shift within the lane to provide more space.
Pedestrians – We often encounter pedestrians on surface streets but they are also fairly common on highways especially near emergency lane vehicles. Our solution is designed to detect pedestrians and safely operate near them.
Cut-ins – Close cut-ins from smaller and faster moving cars are a very common experience for commercial vehicles. Our solution predicts the probability of a car cutting in front of us and moderates the autonomous vehicle’s speed based on the speed and cut-in distance of the other vehicle.
Avoiding close vehicles – Sometimes other vehicles veer close to or even over the lane lines. Our software is designed to shift away from these vehicles or change lanes if they get too close.
Avoiding parallel driving – Your driving instructor may have taught you to avoid driving next to other vehicles in order to reduce the possibility of a crash. Our software is designed to slow down and move away from vehicles traveling next to us whenever possible.
Construction zones – Construction zones are common on highways where we operate. Our solution is designed to identify these areas and operate within them.
Throughout the Driver Out runs our system navigated complex scenarios and fully autonomously traversed highways and surface streets, through traffic signals, and across on-ramps and off-ramps, arriving at our destination safely and on-schedule. During the runs the driverless trucks interacted naturally with everyday road users including other heavy-duty trucks, cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians. We’ve consistently performed these and other driving tasks across multiple Driver Out runs, moving us from a base-driving development phase to a phase focused on scaling new routes and driving conditions. Maximum safety in every scenario is paramount at TuSimple, and through these runs we have planned for and met the challenge safely.
To see and experience the real driving scenarios of our Driver Out runs yourself, watch the highlight video or the full uncut videos. In the coming weeks we’ll share more about our approach to reliability that made these Driver Out runs possible. We’ll also share more information about our next steps to scale Driver Out operations in the Autonomous Freight Network.