Autonomous developer TuSimple partners with community college on autonomous driving certification program

Pima Community College, in Tuscon, Arizona, and autonomous retrofitter TuSimple announced Thursday the launch of the first autonomous driving certificate program for truck drivers.

A preemptive strike toward honing a driver’s skillset as some of their job functions are automated, the Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist certificate program was designed to prepare individuals for trucking’s future, with jobs like training the autonomous system as test drivers, operating the vehicle in situations where autonomous driving is not suitable and to remotely monitor the system from a command center.

TuSimple and Pima Community College co-developed the curriculum’s five classes, and they require a Class A Commercial Driver’s License prior to enrollment. The courses are: Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles, Industrial Safety, Computer Hardware Components, Electrical Systems I, as well as, Transportation and Traffic Management. In conjunction with the program, TuSimple will prioritize hiring graduates of the certificate program for jobs at its Tucson testing and development center.

The program will first be offered at Pima Community College in September and registration begins in August. Once launched, the curriculum will be available complimentary to other schools interested in offering the same program.

Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple’s founder, president and chief technology officer, says the coursework aligns with TuSimple’s goal to create an autonomous driving fleet, adding “an essential aspect of the training program is to ensure that drivers have access to appropriate training for this new technology and employment opportunities.”

“The program offers driving professionals a smooth transition into an emerging field that requires different skill sets in addition to existing truck driving knowledge by providing training,” he says.