UPS has announced an investment in TuSimple, the world’s largest and most advanced self-driving truck company. Sean O’Kane reports for The Verge:
UPS has had autonomous trucking startup TuSimple hauling cargo for it between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, since May as part of a newly publicized partnership between the two companies. The delivery giant made the announcement today alongside the news that its venture arm is taking a minority stake in TuSimple. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
TuSimple had previously run a partnership with the United States Postal Service in May, where the startup’s trucks carried mail on the 1,000-mile stretch between the USPS’s Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas, distribution centers. That pilot has since ended, though the two sides are discussing “next steps,” according to a TuSimple spokesperson.
Founded in 2015, TuSimple uses Navistar trucks outfitted with the startup’s own self-driving tech, which sees the world largely through nine cameras. While each truck is outfitted with a pair of LIDAR sensors as well, the startup is focused on developing a vision-based autonomous system — similar to what Tesla uses in its cars. The startup is already backed by Nvidia and Chinese technology company Sina, and it has a headquarters in San Diego, California, and another in Beijing.
TuSimple says it has been helping UPS “better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network” — a reference to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ scale for self-driving vehicles, where Level 4 refers to full autonomy that’s locked to a designated geographic location. The trucks in use still have a safety driver and an engineer on board who monitor the system, like many of the other self-driving pilot programs currently running in the United States.
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