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Self-driving truck startup Plus announced that a commercial truck equipped with its automated driving technology has passed a national certification test and met all safety and performance requirements to begin on-road operation in China.
The FAW J7+ model, jointly developed by Plus and FAW Jiefang, China’s largest heavy-truck manufacturer, is the first automated truck to pass the certification test, conducted at the China Automotive Technology & Research Center.
The vehicle is scheduled to enter mass production in the first half of 2021.
“I’m proud of our team for achieving this significant milestone,” Shawn Kerrigan, Plus co-founder and chief operating officer, said in the Nov. 9 announcement. “As the result of years of intense technology development and collaboration with leading technology suppliers, Plus now has a best-in-class product that meets the stringent requirements of a commercial self-driving system.”
Plus, founded in 2016 and based in Cupertino, Calif., also has been testing its automated driving technology on heavy-duty trucks in the United States.
The company is working to develop SAE Level 4 automated trucks that eventually would be able to travel between distribution centers in hub-to-hub operations with no driver onboard. For now, though, its test trucks still have a safety driver behind the wheel while on public roads.
Earlier this year, Plus announced plans to operate its self-driving trucks in all continental U.S. states that permit testing. The goal, the company said, is to build experience across all terrains and weather conditions.
In late 2019, an automated truck operated by Plus hauled 40,000 pounds of butter for Land O’Lakes on a 2,800-mile, cross-country run from Tulare, Calif., to Quakertown, Pa., in less than three days.
A number of other companies also are actively testing and developing various forms of automated truck technology, including Aurora, Einride, Embark, Ike, Kodiak Robotics, Pronto, Torc Robotics, TuSimple and Waymo. At the same time, truck manufacturers and their suppliers continue to invest in automated-driving capabilities as well.
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