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Suning tests autonomous heavy truck for logistics

Suning store Photo: Reuters

Chinese retail giant Suning Commerce Group has conducted tests of a driverless heavy truck on a designated road in Shanghai, as part of its efforts to apply the self-driving technology to logistics, awtmt.com, a technology news website in China, reported recently.

The autonomous heavy truck named "Moving Dragon Number One" with a cargo capacity of 40 tons, which can run 80 kilometers per hour, adopts artificial intelligence, deep learning and laser radar technologies, which enabled the vehicle to avoid obstacles and stop when detecting pedestrians during the road test, said the report.

Other functions of the unmanned heavy truck include autonomous route planning and precise parking, according to the report.

As part of cooperation between Suning and PlusAI, a Silicon Valley-based technology firm dedicated to commercializing self-driving technology, the autonomous heavy truck features the Level 4 autonomy, which allows a car to run almost totally autonomously without any human intervention. The autonomous driving technology is divided by the Society of Automotive Engineers into six levels, with the Level 5 autonomy being the highest one, which enables a car to be completely in control all the time.

Suning is China's first retail group to test autonomous heavy truck, which the company plans to use in cargo transportation on highways that connect Suning's warehouses.

The less complicated road conditions of highways present promising prospects for the use of autonomous heavy tracks for logistics, said Luan Xuefeng, vice president of Suning Logistics Institute.

The autonomous heavy truck powered by the Level 4 autonomy will bring more possibilities to the logistics industry, which is becoming more reliant on the self-driving and artificial intelligence technologies, said Liu Wanqian, chief executive officer of PlusAI.

In March, PlusAI established a strategic partnership with FAW Jiefang, a Chinese truck manufacturer headquartered in the city of Changchun, to jointly set up a research and development team to develop autonomous commercial cars suitable for highways and designated roads.

Previously, Suning had tested a mini autonomous transporter named "Crouching Dragon Number One", which can directly deliver goods to customers. 

The Nanjing-based retail giant has started using robots at warehouses, where they are tasked with order picking.

Suning plans to build a three-pronged, smart logistics system, which comprises robots, regional autonomous vehicles and trunk autonomous heavy trucks .

In China, many non-automobile companies have delved into the autonomous car sector, which is believed to potentially generate billions of dollars a year, among which the best known company is technology giant Baidu, which is roping in global players to join its open-source Apollo self-driving platform. Baidu is scheduled to start mass production of an autonomous bus this summer in partnership with a domestic bus producer.

Another company is ride-hailing service provider Didi Chuxing, which has announced plans to develop software for autonomous cars and establish a comprehensive platform where autonomous cars will be shared by travelers.
 


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