TuSimple launches ‘world's first’ autonomous freight network

Truck driver in a self-driving truck
Self-driving truck

TuSimple, a global autonomous trucking technology company, has partnered with United Parcel Service (UPS), Penske Truck Leasing, US Xpress and McLane Company to launch the world’s first Autonomous Freight Network (AFN).

The network brings together autonomous trucks, digitally mapped routes, strategically placed terminals and TuSimple Connect, the company’s autonomous operations monitoring system that ensures safe autonomous driving and real-time tracking of freight.

The technology makes autonomous trucks as much as 10% more fuel-efficient and can support continuous operations without hours of service limitations.

TuSimple currently operates autonomous commercial vehicles on seven routes between Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso and Dallas, and plans to open a shipping terminal in Dallas to service customers in the "Texas triangle" and enable mid-sized customers to benefit from autonomous trucking.

TuSimple will continue mapping routes and delivering directly to large customers’ distribution centers.

The company will establish the groundwork for commercially available self-driving autonomous trucks by rolling out the AFN in three phrases:

  • Phase I (2020-21): Service will begin in Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
  • Phase II (2022-23): Service will expand to Los Angeles and Jacksonville to connect both coasts.
  • Phase III (2023-24): Driverless operations will expand to major shipping routes across the continental U.S. and allow customers to use their own TuSimple-equipped autonomous trucks by 2024.

TuSimple plans to expand to Europe and Asia after 2024.

"Our ultimate goal is to have a nationwide transportation network consisting of mapped routes connecting hundreds of terminals to enable efficient, low-cost long-haul autonomous freight operations," said Cheng Lu, president of TuSimple.

"By launching the AFN with our strategic partners, we will be able to quickly scale operations and expand autonomous shipping lanes to provide users access to autonomous capacity anywhere and 24/7 on-demand."

US Xpress operates one of the largest carrier fleets in the US and will provide additional lanes to support TuSimple's L4 technology learning. This will enable the company to improve driving responses on the road to make it safer for all drivers on the highway.

"For the past two years, US Xpress has worked closely with TuSimple to help define carriers' needs for L4 trucks," said Eric Fuller, president and CEO of US Xpress.

"We are interested in understanding how TuSimple technology can make our fleet safer and more fuel-efficient as well as how it can improve the overall delivery experience for our professional drivers and customers."

Penske Truck Leasing enables TuSimple to expand its fleet operations, as it operates more than 750 service facilities across North America. It will also provide preventive maintenance and over-the-road service for autonomous trucks.

"Penske has always been committed to supporting its customers and innovation when it comes to mobility," said Bill Combs, vice president of Connected Vehicle Strategy and Experimentation at Penske.

"We look forward to our continued collaboration with TuSimple and supporting their fleet needs as this new freight network begins to scale."

McLane is the supply chain unit for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and serves chain restaurants, mass merchants, drug stores and convenience stores. UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company and purchased a minority stake in TuSimple in 2019.

David Gargaro has been providing content writing and copy editing services for more than 20 years. He has worked with companies across numerous industries, including (but not limited to) advertising, publishing, marketing, real estate, finance, insurance, law, automotive, construction, human resources, restoration services, and manufacturing. He has also managed a team of freelancers as the managing editor of a small publishing company.