Autonomous trucking company Plus is collaborating with Italian vehicle maker Iveco as part of a self-driving trucking project in both Europe and China, the companies announced Dec. 20.
The pilot program will test Plus’s autonomous driving system PlusDrive with Iveco’s latest-generation S-WAY heavy-duty truck.
The first joint trial will investigate the performance of the system across a wide range of environments and driving conditions with both a driver on board and with Level 4 driving technology designed to act without any human intervention in the vast majority of situations.
“As the only autonomous trucking technology company that has already started delivering a commercial product to customers in the heavy-haulage sector, Plus has developed a clear and compelling strategy to launch a driver-in solution first and then a Level 4 autonomous truck,” Marco Liccardo, Iveco Group’s chief technology and digital officer, said in a statement. “This is in line with our customer-centric view of a more automated and safe truck aiming at improving productivity and reducing operating costs.”
“We have always emphasized the need for expansive testing to validate that an autonomous driving system is able to handle diverse weather, terrains, and driving scenarios,” Shawn Kerrigan, chief operating officer and co-founder of Plus, said in a statement. “This pilot will accelerate our efforts to start production of autonomous trucks that combine Plus’s production-ready, high performance, full-stack Level 4 autonomous driving technology with Iveco’s deep engineering expertise and focus on safety and sustainability.”
This year has seen Plus announce a number of other partnerships to advance its position in the industry. In August, Plus revealed it would investigate how data from Goodyear’s connected tires could help inform Plus’s AI-based fuel optimization systems, and in September, Plus announced it would supply its PlusDrive systems to the world’s largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer, FAW.
Still, this year Plus has also faced setbacks. In May, Plus revealed plans to go public in a deal that valued the startup at $3.3 billion. The company would have merged with Hennessy Capital, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — such mergers are an increasingly popular way for companies to go public, with autonomous technology startups Aurora and Embark both recently going public via SPAC mergers. However, Plus and Hennessy Capital called off the deal in November.