San Francisco-based Embark’s autonomous semi (a modified Peterbilt 579) just completed a 2,400 mile trip from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. The journey took five days to complete including breaks for the driver onboard. Embark is now collecting the data from this road trip to see how it can implement it to future self-driving testing. Embark is also using the data to get a better understanding in regards to disengagements and human intervention. Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues said “hours at a time with no disengagements, and when they did occur they were usually only a few seconds.” The Level 2 autonomous big rig relies on machine learning and sensor data to plot the trip. The big rig’s autonomous system didn’t need to rely on high resolution maps. This helps set it apart from other autonomous competitors as machine learning cuts down costs and time to plan out routes to a destination.
Embark does not intend to replace human drivers, but rather assist them with this technology. There is currently a truck driver shortage across Canada and the United States. Embark wants to make it possible for trucking companies to reduce labor costs by reducing the need for teaming up drivers. Drivers will still be needed to maneuver the semi on some parts of the route that does not involve driving on the highway or when attaching a trailer to the semi.
Image credits: Embark