California’s Plus, German Truck Giant Test Self-Driving Runs Between Dallas and San Antonio

Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving startup Plus has announced a partnership with brands of the Munich-based TRATON GROUP. The partners say they're already testing self-driving trucking runs between Dallas and Houston with a safety driver on board—and more runs are coming "in the Texas triangle and I-10 corridor."

Another California autonomous driving startup has turned North Texas into a proving ground for its self-driving trucking capabilities—and it’s partnered with a German-based vehicle manufacturing giant to help do it.

Silicon Valley-based Plus—which was founded in 2016 by a group of Stanford Ph.D. grads—announced a long-term partnership Tuesday with Scania, MAN, and Navistar of the Munich-based TRATON GROUP for the global commercial deployment of Level 4 autonomous trucks.

Together, the companies aim to create a Level 4 commercial autonomous transport solution that combines Scania, MAN, and Navistar autonomous-ready base vehicles with Plus’s autonomous driving software in “hub-to-hub operations.”

Testing has already begun between Dallas and San Antonio, with more routes to come

Plus, Scania, MAN, and Navistar partner on Level 4 autonomous trucks [Photo: Business Wire]

Trucks of the TRATON GROUP brands equipped with Plus’ SuperDrive autonomous solution are already being tested on public roads in the U.S. and Europe with a safety driver on board, the companies said. Only one U.S. pilot run was detailed in the announcement, and it couldn’t be more close to home:

“The teams have started testing their Level 4 autonomous trucks in the busy freight corridor between San Antonio and Dallas in Texas and will expand to other routes in the Texas triangle and I-10 corridor,” the joint announcement stated.

The partners’ commercial deployments “will expand incrementally along strategic U.S. corridors,” the companies said. Testing is also being conducted between the cities of Södertälje and Nyköping in Sweden, with additional pilot operations planned in other European countries in 2024.

Joining a long list of autonomous trucking pilots in North Texas

North Texas has been a proving ground for autonomous trucking for the last several years. Companies including Kodiak Robotics, Aurora InnovationWaymoGatik, and Tu Simple have operated self-driving trucks with safety drivers in the cab in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth—reimagining how truckloads can be moved on our highways and roadways. Aurora says it aims to begin rolling totally human-free trucking runs—without a safety driver in the cab—between Dallas and Houston by end of this year.

Peter Hafmar, VP and head of autonomous solutions, at Sweden-based Scania, is leading the coordination of autonomous solutions for the TRATON GROUP. 

“We see autonomous as a key part of our offer for a full range of safe, efficient and sustainable transport solutions that can be adapted according to each individual customer’s specific needs, something which is further strengthened by our partnership with Plus,” Hafmar said in a statement. “By expanding our autonomous hub-to-hub program, we’re taking a leading position in providing autonomous solutions to our customers.”

Aiming to accelerate global commercialization of Level 4 autonomous trucks

Plus Co-Founder and COO Shawn Kerrigan said that together, the partners “will accelerate the global commercialization of Level 4 autonomous trucks and bring to market safer and more sustainable transportation solutions.”

Plus and the TRATON GROUP brands have pursued their joint development over the last year, adding to a collaboration that goes back even further, the companies said.

Through partnerships with “world-class fleets,” Tier-1 automotive suppliers, vehicle manufacturers, and infrastructure providers, Plus says it is validating and refining its SuperDrive solution for integration into vehicles at the factory level and global commercial deployment.

Plus has been named by Fast Company as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies and by Forbes as one of America’s Best Startup Employers. 

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