San Mateo, Calif.-based Embark might be the most impressive self-driving truck company on the list. The startup, which unveiled its technology in February 2017, recently completed five-day, 2,400-mile drive from LA to Jacksonville, Fla. There was a human safety driver inside the truck for the entire trip, but reports said “the vast majority of the driving was autonomous,” with “hours at a time with no disengagements.” When there was a disengagement, they usually lated “only a few seconds.”
Embark is different from other self-driving trucks in that its trucks don’t rely on high-resolution, detailed maps of its route. Embark’s system use a combination of radars, cameras and LiDARs to collect data, which is then processed by deep neural networks (DNNs) to allow the truck to learn how to drive. According to Embark, this approach reduces the cost and development time needed to establish new routes.
Embark is primarily using its self-driving trucks for long stretches of highway driving. It relies on human truckers to drive the freight between warehouses and highways, where Embark’s computer takes over.