Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a global provider of self-driving truck technology, has announced that Aeva will supply automotive-grade long-range 4D LiDAR for the production of driver-in and fully autonomous trucks powered by the PlusDrive system. Aeva’s LiDAR technology is designed to shorten response times in safety-critical situations and address additional edge cases autonomous trucks might encounter by leveraging the company’s proprietary instant velocity data. The companies have been collaborating since 2019 to equip and validate Plus’s autonomous trucking system with Aeva’s Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) 4D LiDAR.
Instant Velocity Detection
Plus will use Aeva’s 4D FMCW LiDAR to augment and enhance the long-range perception capability of PlusDrive, which employs a combination of LiDAR, radar, and cameras. As described by Plus, the Aeva LiDAR adds important instant velocity detection for the safe operation of autonomous trucks as the sensor suite must detect objects, place them in lanes, and assign an accurate velocity at long ranges. Currently, Aeva’s 4D LiDAR senses precise velocity and position for each point at distances in excess of 500 meters.
“You can never be too safe when it comes to equipment you put on a heavy truck that can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. and therefore requires a much longer safe stopping distance than passenger vehicles,” explained Shawn Kerrigan, COO and Co-Founder of Plus. “Aeva is able to mass-produce this automotive-grade and high-performing LiDAR, which will start going into PlusDrive in late 2022.”
Edge Cases & Fuel Costs
According to a joint press release, the combination of Aeva’s 4D LiDAR and Plus’s autonomy stack can address safety-critical edge cases, including previously unseen obstacles that may confound deep neural networks in the perception stack. PlusDrive is also designed to improve driver retention, reduce fuel costs, and lower carbon emissions.
“We are pleased that a leader like Plus recognizes the unparalleled performance of our unique 4D LiDAR sensors,” said Soroush Salehian, Co-founder and CEO at Aeva. “This production partnership validates Aeva’s technology as the world’s first automotive 4D LiDAR for autonomous trucking and we look forward to supporting Plus as they ramp up production of their automated trucks.”
“We’re excited to continue the global deployment of our autonomous driving technology, and after billions of miles of real-world experiences, get to a fully driverless system,” Kerrigan added. “We’ve seen from real-world operations the improved safety, over 10 percent fuel savings, and greater peace of mind that autonomous trucking technology can unlock for fleets and drivers today.”
Humans Behind Automated Trucking
Plus was among the many companies featured in a recent video from the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education about the advancement of autonomous trucking. Many of the employees in the video work as safety drivers to help make the technology a reality. According to American Trucking Associations data, 72.5 percent of U.S. goods were moved on trucks in 2019, representing more than 11 billion tons of freight, generating $791.7 billion in total revenue.
“The driver shortage is playing a crucial role in the supply chain crunch we are currently experiencing,” Kerrigan said about the video. “This has helped to underscore the crucial role that trucking plays in our lives and our economy, and the delays and havoc it can cause when we have a shortage of drivers to move goods.”