TuSimple makes autonomous semitruck run in China

June 16, 2023

Chuck Robinson


San Diego-based TuSimple reports having completed the first fully autonomous semitruck run on open public roads in China without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention.

The “Driver Out” run was conducted on designated public roads approved by the Shanghai government. The route included Yangshan Deep-water Port Logistics Park and Donghai Bridge.

“Over the course of approximately 62 kilometers (38.5 miles), TuSimple China’s autonomous truck demonstrated its capability to navigate complex road and weather conditions in both urban and highway environments within the port area,” TuSimple said in a news release. “This included traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, lane changes, emergency lane vehicles, partial lane closures, fog, and crosswinds.”

The TuSimple China team worked closely with government regulators and law enforcement and implemented a safety vehicle to ensure safety during the run.

The Driver Out program in China has been in development for two years. The company says the test run demonstrates its commitment to developing SAE Level 4 requirements, “with a strong emphasis on redundancy, reliability, and stability to enable safe and fully driverless operations on open roads.”

There are five levels of automation outlined by Society of Automotive Engineers, ranging from Level 1, driver assistance via cruise control or a single automated system, to Level 5, full automation. Level 4, high automation, is where the vehicle performs all driving tasks under specific conditions.

“Being the first to conduct a Driver Out run in China is a significant milestone,” Cheng Lu, president and CEO of TuSimple, said in the company announcement. “Following on from our successful Driver Out run in the United States in 2021, this accomplishment marks another pivotal breakthrough for TuSimple and further underscores our leadership in the autonomous driving industry.”

A seven-minute video of the fully autonomous drive can be found here.

TuSimple testing in Japan

Earlier in June, TuSimple announced that its subsidiary TuSimple Japan had commenced regular testing of its autonomous driving system with a local Japanese manufacturer’s truck on the Tomei Expressway.

The Tomei Expressway connects the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

“Self-driving technology is a promising solution to the driver shortage issue that Japan’s logistics industry faces,” Lu said in a June 5 announcement. “We aim to actively build business partnerships with local companies and develop the technology that will meet local customer demand. We are dedicated to providing the most reliable, safe and efficient autonomous truck solutions for the long-haul transportation industry.”

To watch an eight-minute video of the testing in Japan, click here.

Founded in 2015, TuSimple is developing a commercial-ready, fully autonomous (SAE Level 4) driving solution for long-haul heavy-duty trucks.

As of March 2023, the company reported that its trucks had recorded more than 10 million cumulative miles through testing, research, and freight delivery. In December 2021, TuSimple executed the first fully autonomous semitruck run on public roads in Arizona without any human intervention. LL