Driverless Truck Testing Continues Unhampered in Arizona

The recent pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous Uber in Tempe has not slowed testing for other companies in the state.

by David Wichner, The Arizona Daily Star / March 29, 2018

(TNS) — The recent fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving car that hit a pedestrian in Tempe is not expected to affect the operations of TuSimple, a Chinese company that is developing self-driving commercial trucks in Tucson.

Gov. Doug Ducey this week suspended Uber’s Arizona self-driving car test program pending an investigation of the March 18 fatality, in which an Uber test car plowed into a woman walking her bike while a human monitor in the car was distracted.

Chuck Price, partner and vice president of product at TuSimple, said company officials met with the governor’s staff two days after the Uber incident and they remain “very supportive” of the company’s efforts.

TuSimple is testing autonomous trucks out of a new facility on Tucson’s southeast side and plans to send a commercial load using the self-driving technology from Tucson to Phoenix in the next few months.

“We do not think this will affect our schedule,” Price said in an email. “We consider safety to be our highest priority.”

Price said TuSimple’s systems use a completely different architecture than Uber, “from sensors to software.”

“While we will await the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) report before drawing an official conclusion, our own analysis of released information leads us to be very concerned about Uber’s system performance and human performance,” he said.

Price noted that all of its test drivers are professionally trained Class A commercial driver’s license holders, with additional in-house training by TuSimple.

Each vehicle is manned by one of these drivers plus an engineer, who monitors the system as well as the driver, Price said.

©2018 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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