A self-driving semi truck just made its first cross-country trip

Embark’s self-driving semi truck just drove from Los Angeles to Jacksonville with minimal help from its on-board human driver, the company reports.

The autonomous tractor trailer completed a 2,400 mile trip from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida in five days, traveling for “hours at a time with no disengagements,” says Embark CEO Alex Rodriguez to Engadget.

“When they [disengagements] did occur they were usually only a few seconds,” Rodriguez added.

The autonomous technology inside Embark’s truck uses machine learning software, as well as data from the five cameras, three long-range radars and two light detecting sensors, to map its surroundings in real time, helping it to avoid obstacles, reported CNBC.

Embark has not yet made it clear how many times the human truck driver had to step in during the 2,400 mile, 5 day trip, which included scheduled breaks, but is working to asses all the data collected on the cross-country ride.

The autonomous trip is being considered a success and Embark plans to have installed autonomous technology in 40 more tractor trailers by the end of 2018. However, despite the sudden influx in self-driving technology, Embark assures that the technology is not meant to take jobs away from truckers, only to increase productivity.

“By allowing automation to work together with local drivers to handle less desirable long haul routes, we will be able to increase productivity to address the current 50,000 driver shortage while also creating new local driving jobs that attract younger drivers for the industry,” Rodriguez said.

This is not Embark’s first attempt at a long distance trip using solely autonomous technology. Back in November of last year, one of Embark’s self-driving trucks made it 650 miles, with the driver only taking control while traveling off the highway.