- Powered by Plus’s supervised autonomous driving system PlusDrive, the FAW J7 traveled autonomously on the Silk Road in a 4,000-mile round trip between Suzhou and Dunhuang.
- The journey validates the safety, reliability, and durability of the automotive-grade PlusDrive system.
- The expedition is part of Plus’s expansive testing program that expects to have PlusDrive-powered trucks drive autonomously across all 150,000 kilometers of highways in China.
Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a global provider of self-driving truck technology, announced 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.
Separately, as previously announced, Plus and Hennessy Capital Investment (“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 HCICV 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.