Unmanned TuSimple truck makes the world's first flight without a man in the cockpit


The unmanned truck, developed by the American company TuSimple, became the world's first heavy-duty transport to fly completely autonomously on public roads without a person in the cab.

Despite the fact that the first commercial flight in the United States was performed by an unmanned Uber truck back in 2016, when tested on public roads, there is always at least one person in the cockpit, ready to take over. In addition, in the vast majority of cases, people still take control at the beginning and end of the journey.

Now TuSimple, which has been developing self-driving trucks based on Navistar International tractors since 2015, is showing a fully autonomous cargo flight for the first time. The heavy cargo vehicle passed the route from start to finish without people in the cockpit and without a safety net by remote control.

A tractor with a semi-trailer made an overnight flight in Arizona on December 22: it started at a marshalling yard in Tucson and in less than an hour and a half reached the cargo terminal in Phoenix, covering a route length of 128 kilometers. TuSimple cleared the flight with the State Department of Transportation, and the truck was escorted by several police vehicles, as well as a reconnaissance vehicle heading eight kilometers ahead to check the route.

The company posted a full video of the ride on YouTube, showing data from the leader, front and rear cameras, and cockpit cameras along the way. The truck is capable of independently navigating on highways and maneuvers on small city streets, is able to get ahead of slow traffic and rebuilds from the right lane to reduce the risk of an accident if it sees a car on the side of the road.

TuSimple has made notable strides in recent years: in 2019, its self-driving trucks began transporting UPS packages, and in the spring of 2021, the truck flew 1,500 kilometers.

Other companies around the world are also involved in autonomous cargo transportation, including Daimler, Einride, Embark, Freightliner, Mercedes-Benz, Otto, Volvo, Waymo and WeRide.

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