An autonomous freight company says it expects to launch fully autonomous semi trucks on highways throughout the state of Texas by next year.
Aurora, a company with an autonomous truck terminal in Palmer, Texas just 30 miles from Dallas, says that they have been testing these self-driving tractor trailers every day for some time. Aurora president Ossa Fisher says that the company hauls 75 loads in autonomously operated trucks each week for several different trucking company partners.
“Autonomy is absolutely here,” Fisher said to KENS5 News, “We’re driving autonomous loads everyday on Texas highways.”
The self-driven trucks haul loads from Dallas to Houston and from Fort Worth to El Paso accompanied by a human driver, who can take control if necessary. The truck moves through the world using long-range lidar, radar, and cameras on the rig, which help the truck to react to situations as far as four football fields ahead. Fisher says this long-range sight allows the trucks to respond to changing road conditions between nine and eleven seconds faster than a human driver.
“We can see a near 360-degree view of the world,” Fisher said.
So far, the self-driving trucks have not been tested in cold climates or roadways with ice and snow, but Fisher says they will begin testing the rigs in these winter climates sometime in the future.
“We have stayed away from ice and snow,” Fisher said. “That is definitely the plan to bring it into the fold.”
For now, Aurora is planning its autonomous truck roll-out exclusively in sunbelt states as hub-to-hub deliveries. Human drivers will then take over the shipments at those locations and haul them to their final destinations.
“It is both revolutionary and evolutionary,” said John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association. “You’re going to see more opportunity for drivers to be home at night.”