A self-driving truck operated by tech startup Embark recently completed a test run from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Fla., which the company hailed as the first coast-to-coast journey by an automated truck. The modified Peterbilt tractor, outfitted with an array of sensors and guided by self-driving software, traveled 2,400 miles over five days along the length of Interstate 10 across the southern United States.
Embark’s onboard technology handled nearly all of the highway driving, but a driver was behind the wheel at all times, watching the road and ready to take over if needed. Embark’s current system represents Level 2 automation, where the driver is required to actively monitor the vehicle’s progress as it drives itself on the highway.
The driver is always responsible for being attentive and making sure that everything is safe, but the driver will regularly go many hours down the road without actually being involved, and when they are involved, it’s usually just for a few seconds
– Alex Rodrigues, CEO Embark.
The company’s goal, is to further develop its technology to enable Level 4 automation, where the vehicle can travel on limited, specific highway routes with no driver at all. Embark envisions these Level 4 driverless trucks operating as part of a redesigned freight system, where trailers are exchanged between local drivers and driverless trucks at freight hubs situated along highways.