On May 24, Suning completed its first test of Xing Long 1 (行龙一号), the company’s autonomous heavy truck, at the company’s logistics park in Shanghai. This was the Chinese e-commerce company’s first attempt in autonomous driving and the industry’s first Level 4 test where little human input is needed.
According to local media (in Chinese), before departure, a Suning staff set up driving route for the truck. The vehicle moved at a stable speed and was able to automatically adjust its speed. When encountering pedestrians, Xing Long 1 would identify them as obstacles and stop. The truck resumed driving when the path was clear.
The loading capacity of Xing Long 1 is 40 tons. According to Plus AI, on highways, the vehicle can detect obstacles within 300 meters’ range. The truck is also designed to slow down to 25m/s when taking actions such as braking and obstacle avoidance, whereas a regular driving speed is 80km/h.
Plus AI (智加科技) and Suning equipped the truck with sensors including LiDAR – the component that is suspected to be one crucial reason to some of Tesla’s autonomous driving failure, as the company thinks the sensor is unnecessary.
Plus AI is a self-driving technology company established in 2016. The company is cooperating with Stanford University and China’s leading transportation institution Xi’an Jiaotong University. The company has also established commercial partnerships with China’s major car manufacturers including SAIC Motor and construction machinery producer Zoomlion.
Suning is confident about the technology. Use cases of heavy logistic trucks are mainly in fixed routes such as high ways. The road situations and manufacturing requirements are comparatively simpler than passengers’ cars. The company believes a major obstacle to the truck’s formal launch is administration. At the moment, China’s law permits no similar autonomous cars’ road driving.