Watch a semi truck cover 80 miles on public streets, driverless

Is this the future of trucking? TuSimple thinks so.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
TuSimple autonomous semi truck

Coming to a freight route near you?


We're continually hearing about how the future of trucking is driverless, and earlier this month TuSimple completed a major demo that moves us just a little closer to that future. On December 22nd autonomous trucking startup TuSimple completed a fully driverless, 80-mile journey on public roads in a Class 8 semi truck. There was no human being on the truck and zero intervention from a remote pilot.

The drive, which took 80 minutes, crossed rural and highway roads between Tucson and Phoenix. Along the way, the truck dealt with everything from traffic lights and highway merges to aggressive drivers and curious passers-by. The best part? You can watch the whole drive yourself in the embedded YouTube video, complete with an anonymous electronic soundtrack.

In case you're wondering, yes, the drive was completely legal, following Arizona's autonomy-related laws and completed under the supervision of the Arizona Department of Transportation. TuSimple's digital driver promises to not only be safer than human pilots, but more fuel-efficient as well. 

TuSimple, which has signed on major partners like Penske and UPS, has been operating exclusively in the Southwestern US this year, covering 160,000 autonomous (but supervised) miles so far. The company is prepping for an eastward expansion in 2022 before going coast-to-coast in 2023.