CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a global provider of self-driving truck technology, announced today the completion of a Silk Road expedition by an autonomous truck powered by the company’s supervised autonomous driving system, PlusDrive.
The 4,000-mile long-haul round trip journey was between Suzhou, the silk capital of the world, and Dunhuang, a major historical city on the ancient Silk Road at the edge of the Gobi Desert. Safety and performance validation testing across an expansive set of scenarios was done on the automated truck.
“As we near the start of mass production of PlusDrive in China, stringent testing of our technology in the most challenging and extreme weather conditions as we experienced on the Silk Road is critical to validate our system’s readiness and durability. We are incredibly proud of what Plus has accomplished in order to get here. We continue to be encouraged by the contributions the tech industry can make to the world and aspire to achieve more firsts along the way,” said Shawn Kerrigan, COO and Co-Founder of Plus.
During this trip, the supervised autonomous truck was hauling a fully-loaded trailer and traveled across 7 provinces and 38 cities in China. A professional truck operator was on board at all times to supervise the PlusDrive system.
The supervised autonomous truck encountered congested traffic, steep uphill and downhill gradient changes, tunnels, construction zones, and other scenarios that are typical on a long-haul trip. In addition to driving through these conditions autonomously, it also safely and smoothly handled more challenging situations, including S-curve turns, undivided highways, a 10 kilometer (6 mile) long tunnel, heavy rain, sand storm, and haze.
Mass production of PlusDrive-enabled FAW J7L3 trucks is currently expected to start in the second half of 2021. Putting PlusDrive through stringent safety tests in different weather, terrains, and driving scenarios is a key step to validate the system’s production readiness. So far PlusDrive has been tested in 29 of 34 provincial-level administrative units in China, in addition to extensive simulation and closed-course testing. Plus expects to cover all 150,000 kilometers of China’s national highways. Plus has also successfully passed a number of certifications and tests including the national certification test at the China Automotive Technology & Research Center, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) certification, and certification of its automatic lane change function by the National Technical Committee of Automotive Standards.
For images from Plus’s Silk Road journey, click here.
Separately, as previously announced, on May 10, 2021, Plus and Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC) (“HCIC V” or “Hennessy Capital”) entered into a definitive business combination agreement. Upon closing of the proposed business combination, Plus will be a publicly traded company and its common stock is expected to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “PLAV”. The proposed business combination has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Plus and HCIC V and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, subject to the satisfaction of the necessary regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, including the approval of HCIC V’s shareholders. Please refer to the Current Report on Form 8-K filed by HCIC V on May 10, 2021 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and available at www.sec.gov. for additional information about the proposed business combination, including a copy of the merger agreement and investor presentation.
Plus is an autonomous driving technology company headquartered in Silicon Valley and founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs and industry veterans who have extensive experience in automotive technology and artificial intelligence. Plus is enabling trucks with its mass-production ready, low-cost, and high-performance full-stack Level 4 autonomous driving technology to make long-haul trucking safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. Mass production and global deployment of its supervised autonomous driving system, which reduces fuel consumption by an estimated 10-20% compared to a traditional truck, is planned to start in 2021. The Company is also collaborating with leading truck manufacturers, fleets, and ecosystem partners to drive the development of decarbonization transportation solutions including autonomous trucks powered by natural gas. For more information, please visit www.plus.ai or follow us on LinkedIn or YouTube.