UPS has had autonomous vehicle startup TuSimple hauling freight because of it between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, since May as part of a newly publicized partnership between the 2 companies. The delivery giant made the statement now alongside the information that its enterprise arm is taking a minority stake at TuSimple. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TuSimple had run a partnership with the United States Postal Service in May, where the startup’s trucks transported mail on the 1,000-mile stretch between the USPS’s Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texasand distribution centers. That pilot has since finished, though the two sides are talking “following steps,” according to some TuSimple spokesperson.
TuSimple is endorsed by Nvidia and Chinese tech firm Sina
Launched in 2015, TuSimple uses Navistar trucks equipped with the startup’s own self-driving tech, which sees that the world mostly through nine cameras. While each truck has been outfitted with a pair of LIDAR sensors as well, the startup is centered on developing a vision-based autonomous system — similar to what Tesla uses in its own cars. The startup is endorsed by Nvidia and Chinese tech firm Sina, and it includes a headquarters in San Diego, California, and the next in Beijing.
TuSimple says it has been helping UPS “better know the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking from its own network” — a reference to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ climb for both self-driving vehicles, where Level 4 refers to full autonomy that’s locked to a designated geographic site. The trucks in use still have a security driver and an engineer on board that track the system, like most of the other self-driving pilot applications currently running in the United States.
Additionally, there are a number of both startups and established companies working on sovereign vehicle, from Kodiak along with Einride to Waymo and even Daimler. (Uber shuttered its program last summer after one of its self-driving SUV test vehicles killed a pedestrian.) TuSimple is one of those few hauling actual commercial freight, albeit at a limited capacity on just a couple paths.
The partnership with (and stake in) TuSimple is only the latest indication of UPS’s no ambition to future-proof its own enterprise enterprise, particularly as Amazon builds out its own delivery infrastructure. UPS is operating on a drone delivery service, and it has electrical trucks from the works, while fitting key Amazon features. Rival FedEx recently announced that it didn’t revive its arrangement with Amazon, though UPS is still working with the tech conglomerate for now.
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