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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - June 10th, 2022

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


Our focus will be on the roads this week as we look into a self-driving truck that’s slated to deliver goods to Sam’s Clubs throughout Texas and an AI-powered Chinese car that some believe may challenge Tesla.


Texas-Bound Self-Driving Trucks A Preview of Things to Come?

It’s a common belief that self-driving trucks will one day replace human truck drivers. Harder to predict is how soon, and to what extent. Now, with the news that a self-driving truck will soon deliver goods to 34 locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, as detailed in an article by that name, we may be witnessing the first phase of that transition.

“Gatik will operate autonomous 26-foot box trucks in North Texas seven days a week as part of the Georgia-Pacific and KBX Logistics transportation network,” writes TechXplore contributor Alexandra Skores. “Gatik is replacing traditional tractor-trailers with non-detachable box trucks, a move it said will increase delivery route sequences and reduce costs.”

Gatik began testing their technology with Walmart late in 2020 on a seven-mile loop, slowly expanding testing from there. Initially, the trucks will operate with a driver on board as they deliver goods to Sam’s Club locations, with plans to eventually remove the driver. Each one can operate over 20 hours a day, seven days a week, averaging three 100-mile runs a day.

Driverless trucks may help address the pandemic-driven driver shortage. Walmart has already said that it was raising pay for its private fleet. Additionally, the Gatik trucking facility, which opened in Fort Worth a year ago to serve as its Texas hub, pledged to create over 500 jobs by 2025. It also launched a fleet development program to train the next generation of drivers at a new facility in Dallas.

Whether or not these future driverless trucks will replace truck driver jobs, in the long run, is still very much an open question. According to one study by the University of Michigan, driverless trucks could replace over 500K jobs. Brands that utilize them will need to create other fulfillment jobs to compensate, with regulation potentially being needed to force the issue. While it’s too early to tell how driverless trucks will impact the job market, what’s clear is that they’re here to stay. And they may be on the roads sooner than you think.

Could AI-Powered Chinese Car Launch in Metaverse Challenge Tesla?

We continue with a look at the Chinese car ROBO-01, launched by JIDU, an intelligent electric vehicle company launched as a collaboration between car maker Geely and Baidu. According to the article “ROBO-01: Chinese Car Launched in the Metaverse is Now Available IRL,” the futuristic new model, first launched in the metaverse, will have more AI-driven additions than virtually every car on the market: a U-shaped folding steering wheel, a 3D borderless integrated ultra-clear driving screen, 3D human-machine co-driving map, unparalleled voice assistant capabilities, even a zero-gravity seat. For navigation, the ROBO-01 uses LiDAR, which uses light from a laser for object detection. Xia Yiping, JIDU’s CEO, says these new tech-driven vehicles are pushing the industry forward into the era of auto 3.0.

“The automotive industry in the 3.0 era will see a seismic shift from a revolution in energy to a revolution in product attributes,” says Yiping. “The ultimate goal is to realize a fully driverless transportation experience. The JIDU robocar aims to meet users’ needs for intelligent travel, in-car intelligent assistance and intelligent cabin in the new era.”

Perhaps the car’s most mysterious feature is user emotion recognition. What exactly this means isn’t entirely clear. However, the car does have an impeccable visual perception, voice recognition, and lip capture, which allows for natural and smooth communication between user and car, including external speakers that allow it to communicate with people on the street.

It’s difficult to say whether a Chinese car can compete with the likes of Tesla outside Chinese borders. However, as advertised the vehicle seems quite impressive and may inspire similar tech-heavy vehicle releases via the metaverse. Watch this space.

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