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Semi-truck completes autonomous driving test from Tucson to Phoenix

A semi-truck completed an 80-mile route in Arizona with no human driver or intervention during the trip.

The autonomous driving technology was developed by the San Diego-based company TuSimple. A company spokesperson says it’s the first successful fully-autonomous run by a class 8 vehicle, or semi, on open public roads with no human navigation.

The nighttime trip earlier this month started in Tucson and ended in Phoenix with approval and supervision from the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. A lead vehicle scouted the route for unexpected obstacles about five miles ahead, and a trailing vehicle followed about half a mile behind the truck.

TuSimple said the semi successfully navigated lane changes, traffic signals, on and off-ramps while “naturally interacting with other motorists.”

The company claims its virtual driver “can be operated for significantly less” than traditional trucking operations and estimates its technology saves about 10% on fuel-related costs.