TuSimple completes first 100% driverless truck run on public roads

January 3, 2022

Tyson Fisher


Self-driving trucks reached a milestone after autonomous driving technology company TuSimple says it successfully completed the first driverless run on public roads.

On Dec. 22, San Diego-based TuSimple “completed the world’s first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention,” according to a news release. The 80-mile, one-hour and 20-minute drive began in Tucson, Ariz., and ended in Phoenix.

TuSimple claims this is the first time a Class 8 truck has operated on open public roads without human intervention. In an unedited video of the entire trip, no one can be seen inside the truck. According to TuSimple, the driving test was 100% operated by TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System without a human on board, without remote human control of the vehicle, and without traffic intervention.

“By achieving this momentous technical milestone, we demonstrated the advanced capabilities of TuSimple’s autonomous driving system and the commercial maturity of our testing process, prioritizing safety and collaboration every step of the way,” TuSimple President and CEO Cheng Lu said in a statement. “This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale.”

According to TuSimple, the company’s self-driving technology “successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.”

However, the test drive was not completely uncontrolled. The Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement collaborated with the tech company for the landmark drive.

In addition to working with government regulators and law enforcement, TuSimple sent out a survey vehicle “to look for anomalies” 5 miles ahead of the driverless truck. Also, “an oversight vehicle capable of putting the autonomous truck in a minimal risk condition” was close behind. Law enforcement was about half a mile behind the truck for extra safety measures.

Although the trip was a success, it may still be many years before fully self-driving trucks are commercially available. TuSimple did not announce the successful run until Dec. 29, when stock prices dropped by more than 14% from Dec. 27. As of publication, stock prices are up 12% from Dec. 29 to nearly $36, but down from a 30-day high of $40 on Dec. 7.

With an initial public offering date of April 15, 2021, TuSimple stock prices peaked at $79.84 on June 29. There was no major news or other event explaining the sudden two-day increase that began on June 28, according to Nasdaq. However, the market immediately corrected itself with the company’s stock plummeting to a record low of $27.24 on June 30. LL

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