Self-driving truck tech developer Plus to launch next-gen system for heavy-duty trucks

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Plus Next Gen Autonomous Truck
Because of the size and weight of heavy trucks, they need more time to come to a stop and to maneuver. The Plus self-driving tech system uses lidar — a remote sensor technology that uses light pulses to measure distances — along with radar and cameras to provide a 360-degree view of the truck’s surroundings. (Courtesy: Plus)

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a developer of self-driving truck technology, on March 9 announced plans to equip its next-generation autonomous system with the Nvidia Drive Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC). Plus plans to launch the next-gen system across the U.S., China and Europe in 2022.

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Mass production of the Plus autonomous driving system for heavy trucks will begin this year; over time, the company plans to expand the system’s feature set and operating design domain through over-the-air software updates. Plus will work closely with the Nvidia engineering team to evolve the system, allowing trucks powered by the self-driving tech to “achieve fail-operational performance for greatest on-road safety,” according to a statement from Plus.

“Enormous computing power is needed to process the trillions of operations that our autonomous driving system runs every fraction of a second. NVIDIA Orin is a natural choice for us and the close collaboration with the NVIDIA team on a custom design for our system helps us achieve our commercialization goals,” said Hao Zheng, co-founder and chief technology officer of Plus. “We have received more than 10,000 pre-orders of our system, and will continue to develop our next-generation product based on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform as we deliver the systems to our customers.”

The Plus autonomous driving system is designed to make long-haul trucks safer and more efficient, the company says. Because of the size and weight of heavy trucks, they need more time to come to a stop and to maneuver. Plus’ system uses lidar — a remote sensor technology that uses light pulses to measure distances — along with radar and cameras to provide a 360-degree view of the truck’s surroundings. Data gathered through the sensors help the system identify objects nearby, plan its course, predict the movement of those objects, and control the vehicle to safely make its next move.

The Nvidia Drive Orin tech is capable of delivering 254 trillion operations per second, making it ideal for handling the large number of concurrent operations and supporting sophisticated deep neural networks to process and make decisions using the data on heavy trucks outfitted with the Plus autonomous driving system, the companies said. Orin is also designed for ISO 26262 Functional Safety ASIL-D at the system level.

“Plus and its automated trucks are delivering true social benefits today through improved safety and efficiency,” said Rishi Dhall, vice president of autonomous vehicles for Nvidia. “With Nvidia Drive Orin, Plus’ next-generation automated system will raise the performance bar even higher.”

To support the global deployment of its self-driving truck technology, Plus has added two new senior hires, Dennis Mooney, who was most recently senior vice president of global product development for Navistar, and Chuck Joseph, who joined from Amazon’s global transportation technology group. In addition, Plus company closed $200 million in new funding in February, and announced collaborations with Amazon AWS, Blackberry QNX and Ouster.

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