US network for autonomous trucking
Friday 7 Aug 2020Both start-ups and established automakers see great potential in the future of autonomous trucking, and TuSimple is one company taking very proactive steps to grab its slice of the pie. The California-based firm has revealed an ambitious plan to begin piecing together a network of autonomous trucking routes in the US, with plans to scale up and service the entire contiguous US by 2023.
TuSimple was founded in 2015 and in the last couple of years has been gathering steam in its pursuit of self-driving vehicles. Last year we saw it kick off trials in collaboration with the US Postal Service, using its autonomous trucks to move mail between distribution centers in Arizona and Texas.
Another trial a few months later saw its trucks put to use by shipping giant UPS, which used the autonomous heavy-haulers to deliver goods in Arizona. This was accompanied by the announcement that UPS had acquired a minority stake in TuSimple, with the duo now teaming up again for what is a much grander ambition.
The TuSumple Autonomous Freight Network, as it is called, would be an ecosystem designed to usher in the era of automated freight transport. It would include digitally mapped routes between shipping terminals set in strategic locations, with TuSimple’s autonomous trucks moving goods in between.
TuSimple’s trucks are designed to offer Level 4 autonomy, which means that the vehicle’s computer would be in control the entire length of the trip. This would be achieved through a mix of lidar, radar and high-definition cameras to create a “virtual driver” with 360-degree awareness. All of this would be overseen by TuSimple’s autonomous operations monitoring system, which tracks the location of all the individual trucks on the road.
Along with UPS, TuSimple has partnered with Xpress Enterprises, Penske Trucking and McLane to develop its Autonomous Freight Network. Phase one begins with routes in Arizona and neighbouring Texas, before it expands to connect to Los Angeles to the west and to Florida and North and South Carolina to the east. Phase three of the plan would see the network then expand upwards to cover the entire contiguous United States, which TuSimple hopes to be complete by 2023.
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