Amazon Private Fleet Reportedly Testing Autonomous Trucks

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Embark, a startup aiming to develop an autonomous retrofit system for existing trucks, issued a report highlighting the 124,000-plus miles its vehicles operated in semi-autonomous mode with “multiple Fortune 500 companies,” including Amazon and its private fleet, according to CCJ magazine.

Filed to Reddit this week was the post showing an Amazon-emblazoned trailer being hauled by one of Embark’s retrofitted semi-autonomous Peterbilts (Peterbilt has said it is not involved with Embark).

An Amazon spokesperson on Thursday wouldn’t explicitly confirm whether Amazon was working with Embark to test the autonomous platform. Instead, the company provided this statement: 

“We are always innovating and working with innovative companies to improve the customer experience and safety of our team. We think successful over the road autonomy will create safer roadways and a better work environment for drivers on long-haul runs.”

Likewise, Embark wouldn’t comment on the venture.

The companies declined to answer questions regarding how many Embark vehicles it was testing, what kind of freight was being hauled, the geography of the tests, how many miles of testing had been conducted with Amazon’s fleet and whether the tests would continue, CCJ reports.

Embark’s system as of now is a Level 2 autonomous platform, meaning a truck can maintain its lane and accelerate and decelerate without the input of a human driver. Level 2 is mostly a sophisticated cruise control system designed for use on highways. Level 2 vehicles can’t make turns or negotiate passes, for instance.

However, the company says its ultimate goal is Level 4 autonomy — a high level of autonomy that still requires a human operator but requires little input.

Of the SAE’s levels of automation, Level 4 is the penultimate, with Level 5 automated systems being completely driverless.

Full story here.

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