An autonomous truck just recently completed a coast-to-coast trip from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Fla., driving 2,400 miles from one end of the U.S. to the other.
This follows trucking company Embark‘s prior test route, which ran from L.A. to El Paso, and covers more than four times the distance of that initial path. Embark did the new cross-country trip in five days, but it included a safety driver on board behind the wheel. Since the driver has to be ready to take over control, the route involved scheduled rest brakes. Once Embark’s tech is ready and cleared to run on its own, Embark expects the trip to take only two days in total.
Embark’s goal is not to replace the driver entirely, but to make it possible for long-haul trips to be managed by fewer drivers. Drivers are still expected to help with the parts of the route that do not involve freeway driving, but the efficiency gains and trip time benefits would be substantial once their technology is in service.
The startup does not use high-resolution, detailed maps of its route to inform its autonomous system, but instead relies entirely on sensor data and its onboard machine learning. This cuts down on cost and time needed in terms of preparation before establishing new routes, and Embark says its new 2,400-mile trip down the I-10 shows it can handle major thoroughfares without issue.
Embark’s truck has just arrived back on the West Coast, and the team is still pulling all the data regarding disengagements and human intervention. The San Francisco-based company is also building out its fleet of test vehicles, growing from two to five trucks in just four months.