Over the past several days, we’ve received questions regarding a vehicle incident and we wanted to provide more information to help everyone understand what occurred and how we have resolved the situation.
On April 6, 2022, a human error occurred when two operators in a TuSimple vehicle incorrectly reengaged the autonomous driving mode without completing all of the steps necessary to safely reengage, resulting in the truck scraping a median. Fortunately, no one was injured, there was no property damage, and the only visible sign of the incident was a minor scrape on the truck.
In the US, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports over 500,000 crashes involving large trucks each year. In comparison, in seven years and 7.2 million miles of autonomous vehicle testing, this is the first on the road incident for which we’ve been responsible. While our safety record is many times better than traditional manually-driven trucks, we take our responsibility to find and resolve all safety issues very seriously.
That’s why, in response to this situation on April 6th, we immediately grounded our entire autonomous fleet and launched an independent review to determine the cause of the incident. With learnings from this review in hand, we upgraded all of our systems with new automated system checks to prevent this kind of human error from ever happening again and we reported the incident to NHTSA and the Arizona Department of Transportation. This, along with all incidents involving companies building autonomous driving systems, can be found on NHTSA’s website where information about the April 6th incident has been publicly available for more than a month.
Because of our self-reporting of the incident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) formally requested information, and we welcomed their team along with staff from NHTSA to visit our site in Tucson to discuss what occurred and the solutions we put in place to safeguard against human errors. Currently, we are helping FMCSA and NHTSA with the review process.
Whether it’s traditional vehicles or autonomous vehicles being tested, any time a person is behind the wheel of a vehicle, there is a chance an accident could occur. In fact, human error is responsible for 94% of all accidents. Some question the safety of testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, but this testing comes along with massive amounts of simulations, track testing, and analysis. We’ve also created strong partnerships with local safety authorities to ensure we are doing it right. Only through public road testing will we be able to safely bring this technology to the world.
We are proud of our work at TuSimple and remain completely confident in our progress to deliver advanced autonomous trucking at a commercial scale to build a safer, more efficient, and sustainable future on the road.