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Autonomous Semi Trucks Are Being Developed

In the world of commercial vehicles, autonomous capability has many advantages and benefits. These large trucks, otherwise known as semis or tractor trailers, are driven hundreds of thousands of miles per year, per truck. The trucks are also primarily driven on highways over long stretches of roadway. The commercial truck driver is a professional driver who is subjected to many roadway hazards and challenges, all while piloting a massive vehicle safely and efficiently. To aid these drivers with autonomous capability would benefit transportation as a whole, providing a safer, faster way to transport the goods that all of us rely on every day. Aurora, a company pioneering autonomous driving, has partnered with Paccar, the manufacturer of Peterbuilt trucks, to develop a large scale commercial vehicle that can operate autonomously. The vehicle has qualified for SAE level 4 autonomous operation and was recently presented at the CES show in Las Vegas. The truck is based upon Peterbuilt’s popular model 579 truck that already has substantial driver aids equipped on it. The autonomous version provided by Aurora, dubbed the Aurora Driver, further enhances the autonomous features of the Peterbuilt 579 and provides certain self-driving capabilities to the truck. The Peterbuilt 579 was overhauled by Paccar in 2021, therefore providing a brand new platform to bring autonomous. One impressive feature of the Aurora Driver system is the LIDAR, Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave LIDAR, to be precise. It has the capability to sweep the entire driver area at a range of approximately 1000 feet and can even detect objects that are non-reflective. The system is so sensitive that it can operate on single photon light levels, making it useable at night time or in low light. The system operates at the 1550 nm wavelength level, allowing it to remain sensitive and still pass eye safety requirements. Aurora’s partnership with Paccar is a step made by both companies to bring commercial vehicles automation into reality in the near future.

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