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Self-driving semi-trucks being tested on Arizona roads

Posted: 10:31 PM, Jan 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-24 08:51:19-05

A Chinese startup is already running three self-driving semi-trucks in Arizona. 

"It's truly a game changer," said Robert Brown, Director of Government Relations for TuSimple. 

The trucks, customized Peterbilt models, are equipped with cameras and radars on the cab that allow them to see more than 650-feet down the road.

Brown said the company is planning to have 25 self-driving trucks running on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson by the end of 2018. There is still someone in the driver's seat in case something goes wrong.  

"Our business model is what they call the mid-mile, so it's distribution center to distribution center," said Brown, which means you won't see the trucks on city streets. Current technology only allows them to run during the day but, Brown said, they are working to change that. 

TuSimple is partnering with a commercial shipper and beginning in the fall, will start hauling goods along the I-10 route. An executive order by Governor Doug Ducey to lure self-driving researchers to the state was a major factor in the company choosing Arizona, Brown said.  

Twelve employees are currently moving into TuSimple's brand new Tucson warehouse. Executives expect to add around 90 more employees by the end of the year. 

"We're working on a partnership with the University of Arizona College of Engineering to provide collaboration for their students and potentially hiring them when they graduate," said Brown.