Autonomous transport company Plus accelerates the transition to semi-autonomous trucks

This article is part of a VB Lab Insight series paid for by Plus

Breaking away from the competition, Plusa Silicon Valley-based provider of autonomous truck technology, takes an innovative driver-in-progress approach to commercialization that addresses the critical challenges facing the trucking industry today.

According to newly released estimates of road deaths in 2021the number of accidents involving at least one large truck has increased by 13% compared to the previous year.

With a nationwide shortage of truck drivers estimated at 80,000 last year and growing, PlusDrive, Plus’s market-ready solution for supervised autonomous driving, is helping long-haul hauliers reduce stress while improving safety for all road users.

First-to-market solution helps fleets today

In 2021, Plus reached a critical industry milestone, becoming the first self-driving truck technology company to deliver a commercial product to customers. Over the past year, Plus PlusDrive has supplied some of the world’s largest fleets and truck manufacturers.

These units are not demos or test systems. Shippers have installed the technology on their trucks, and PlusDrive-equipped trucks with shippers’ drivers transport commercial cargo on public roads across the country.

PlusDrive improves safety and driver comfort, and saves at least 10% on fuel costs, by addressing driver recruitment and retention, while offsetting rising diesel prices and other costs associated with today’s volatile truck market.

Plus’s first-to-market shipments and installations confirm the company’s progress in developing a safe, reliable driver-in technology solution for the long-haul truck industry.

PlusDrive will reach more fleets this year as Plus continues to expand its close partnership with customers who are pioneering the use of self-driving truck technology for their heavy-duty truck operations.

Partnerships open up commercial paths for PlusDrive

Partnerships with industry stakeholders – from auto suppliers to truck manufacturers and regulators – have been critical to Plus’ success, helping to open innovation and commercial avenues to deploy its technology globally. The autonomous driving technology can be retrofitted to existing trucks or installed at factory level. Plus, together with Cummins and IVECO, is also developing autonomous natural gas trucks for the US and Europe.

Building on the market penetration it has already achieved, Plus this month announced a partnership with Velocity, a fleet technology solutions company, creating a nationwide installation and service network capable of delivering PlusDrive semi-autonomous trucks to customers within 12 hours. Maintenance services are also available nationwide by leveraging mobile resources to meet customers at their preferred location.

The program, known as Plus Build, equips Class 8 trucks with state-of-the-art lidar, radar and camera sensors and Plus’s proprietary autonomous driving software.

With PlusDrive, truck drivers stay in the cab to oversee Level 4 technology, but don’t have to actively drive the vehicle. Instead, they can turn on PlusDrive to automatically drive the truck on highways in all traffic conditions, including staying centered on the lane, changing lanes and handling stop-and-go traffic. PlusDrive reduces driver stress and fatigue and provides a compelling recruitment and retention tool in times of driver shortages.

Velociti’s nationwide installation and maintenance network will help get PlusDrive into the hands of more truck drivers across the country, making their jobs “safer, easier and better”. Shawn KerriganCOO and co-founder of Plus.

“Plus Build helps companies unlock the benefits of autonomous driving today by rapidly modernizing trucks to improve their safety and uptime.”

Drivers are on board for next-generation autonomous driving

Plus works closely with customers, drivers and industry partners to help them understand the benefits of PlusDrive. Their testimonials confirm the main advantages of the system.

“I am a recognized cynic and I was blown away,” said Ann Rundle, commercial vehicle and transportation industry analyst, ACT examination† After taking a demo ride of a PlusDrive-compatible truck during the recent Advanced Clean Transport ExpoRundle said: “It was so seamless. I suppose if I wasn’t looking at the screen that said the system is ‘Engaged’ I might have wondered [if PlusDrive was indeed still doing the driving]†

A professional driver invited to test PlusDrive repeated those feelings. “If I had a system like that in my truck,” he said, “my job would be a lot smoother, easier and a lot less stressful.”

Another customer fleet operator praised PlusDrive for “enhancing safety; keep giving us these tools — it’s a tool to help us help the business.”

PlusDrive keeps the economy moving, safe

Startups competing for a share of the future of self-driving trucks are aligned with the long-term goal of getting fully self-driving trucks (without safety drivers) on the road. But Plus stands out as the only company to market a product that enables fleets and drivers to take advantage of automation today, with little sign of the chaos and stress in freight markets coming to an end. Through its concerted, deliberate approach to now delivering its autonomous truck technology as a commercial product, Plus maximizes benefits for fleets and makes long-haul transportation safer and easier for the hard-working operators who keep the country’s economy moving.

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