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PlusAI develops driverless trucks with Manbang

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2019-01-07 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

On Nov 30, PlusAI, a startup specializing in self-driving vehicle technology, recently received its first license allowing it to test a self-driving commercial freight truck. This is the first such license ever given out in China. "We are committed to developing safe Level-4 self-driving long-distance freight trucks," said Liu Wanqian, CEO and founder of PlusAI. "Driverless cargo vehicles will accelerate the development of the logistics industry, improve road safety, make transport more efficient and reduce fuel consumption."

Last May, PlusAI and Suning, one of China's largest logistics companies, tested the newly-developed heavy-duty driverless truck in Suning's logistics park and on a highway in Shanghai. The test mimicked a fairly typical scenario 一 A L4 autonomous truck, loaded with 40 tons cargo, drove from one warehouse to another. Equipped with AI, deep learning and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology, the driverless truck remained safe at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour on the highway, detecting moving objects 300 meters away and having a break reaction time of 25 meters per second.

"There is a trend toward driverless cargo in the logistics industry," said Luo Peng, vice-president of Manbang Group, earlier in December, "Manbang Group is pursuing the research and development of driverless freight technology with PlusAI, Manbang's holding company, with which it has an exclusive strategic partnership."

On Nov 8, PlusAI signed an exclusive strategic partnership agreement with Manbang group. Both companies agreed to cooperate on the adoption of driverless vehicle technology in the long-distance transport and logistics industries. They agreed to focus on high definition map data collection and large-scale driverless commercial fleets.

On Nov 21, PlusAI, Manbang Group, FAW Group and NVIDIA stated that they would collaborate on a L4 trucking fleet. FAW Group, one of the largest heavy truck equipment manufacturers in China, will help produce the truck, while NVIDIA will provide the NVIDIA DRIVE AGX Pegasus AI computing platform to operate the driverless fleet.

PlusAI also closed a round of financing that same month. "Our aim is to create a driverless commercial trucking fleet with over one thousand L4 trucks within two years," said Liu Wanqian.

"The market is huge and promising for AI logistics. A total of more than 1 trillion yuan ($156 billion) is spent on logistics in China every year, making up 15 percent of the national GDP," he added, "This means it is important to ramp up cooperation with Manbang Group to develop the driverless trucking industry."

"However, a lack of policies aimed at driverless freight poses a huge challenge," said PlusAI's spokesperson Wang Xiaodong. "After all, driverless commercial trucks are a recent phenomenon. It takes time for it to be properly adapted to public needs, and a fully operational driverless truck fleet needs more than just the proper technology, it also needs appropriate policies and supporting infrastructure."

Li Hanyi contributes to this story

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