Embark co-founders Alex Rodrigues, left, and Brandon Moak with their fleet of autonomous semi-trucks at the startup's operations center in Ontario, California. Ask Embark Trucks CEO Alex Rodrigues how his small autonomous tech startup can compete with giants in the space like Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo or Uber and the confident 22-year-old is ready with an answer. "We're able to move really fast," he told Forbes aboard the cab of one of Embark's sensor-laden Peterbilt semi-trucks as it barreled down the I-10 on a sunny morning, hauling a commercial load from Ontario, California, to Phoenix. As required by law a safety driver's hands are on the wheel, but the big rig is driving itself down the busy highway. "Waymo may have the conglomerate advantage' of build once, use many times," he said, because its new robot truck program has the same tech that goes into its self-driving minivans.
On Thursday night, Elon Musk rolled out Tesla's biggest gizmo yet: a fully electric semitruck. The Semi can go a whopping 500 miles between charges, hauling 80,000 pounds along the way. The truck comes with Enhanced Autopilot, the second generation of Tesla's semiautonomous technology, equipped with automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings.
Multiple companies are rolling out automated semi-trucks, but this technological progression threatens the livelihood of millions of truckers. Uber has been using its self-driving trucks to transport goods in Arizona. SAN FRANCISCO -- The trucks rumble out of California ports laden with freight destined for all points east, an incessant ballet of goods, gear and labor long synonymous with commerce, independence and the open road. But a key player in this quintessentially American dance could soon disappear: the trucker. A new technological dawn is breaking over an industry that moves 70% of the nation's wares, one that promises to impact the lives of 3.5 million truck drivers similar to how tractors revolutionized farming a century ago.
For TuSimple, it was a perfectly-executed maneuver, one the company has practiced repeatedly under mostly ideal conditions on a familiar route. Days before and hundreds of miles away in Cupertino, Calif., a self-driving PlusAI Corp. big rig undertook an even more ambitious operation, merging onto Interstate 280 and into the crush of Bay Area rush hour, and motored on its own cautiously down the clogged highway. The maneuvers on public roads, both short demonstration runs with no commercial cargo on board, show the potential of a technology that has drawn billions of dollars of investment. But they also show how far it has to go before it can operate safely without a human at the wheel, allowing semi trucks to haul themselves over busy interstate highways, through gnarly weather and routes lined with construction. Most startups are pushing to achieve what is known as Level 4 automation, meaning the vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions.
Uber's autonomous trucks are finally hitting the road. The ride-hailing startup said on Tuesday that its self-driving big rigs have been ferrying cargo on highways in Arizona over the past few months. For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks. Humans pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs. For each trip, human drivers work in tandem with the autonomous trucks.