TuSimple, a maker of self-driving trucks, has secured an agreement with DHL Supply Chain to incorporate its autonomous vehicle technology into its operations. As part of the agreement, the contract logistics behemoth has set aside 100 autonomous vehicles created jointly by TuSimple and Navistar.
TuSimple’s entire reservations order now stands at 6,875 trucks, the first of which will deliver in 2024. TuSimple said that it is already transporting freight for DHL on a San Antonio-to-Dallas route utilizing self-driving vehicles.
TuSimple’s so-called autonomous freight network includes that route. The trucks are in autonomous mode, but there are always two safety operators in the cab, one of whom is at the wheel, in case a takeover is required.
By 2024, the autonomous freight network, or AFN, will be a mapped network of shipping routes and ports built for autonomous trucking operations across the United States. TuSimple’s AFN consists of four components: self-driving vehicles, digitally mapped routes, freight terminals, and a system that allows clients to monitor autonomous trucking operations and track shipments in real time.
TuSimple will run the vehicles and transport items for its clients for the time being. TuSimple’s long-term ambition is to offer its self-driving trucks alongside a subscription service called TuSimple Path that allows clients to run their own fleets. President and CEO Cheng Lu told TechCrunch that TuSimple now has to be its own operator. The long-term objective is to become a supplier of self-driving cars and related services.
“We believe that’s how we’ll be able to grow the number of cars,” Lu explained. DHL is one of an increasing number of organizations that have joined the TuSimple AFN, including UPS, carrier U.S. Xpress, Penske Truck Leasing, and Berkshire Hathaway’s supermarket and food service supply chain giant McLane Inc.
The self-driving freight network, which began operations in 2020, currently stretches from Arizona to Florida. Over the following five years, the firm plans to build a countrywide freight transportation network. TuSimple also has plans to expand across Europe and Asia.
The business is putting its self-driving trucks to the test in Sweden and at Shanghai’s deepwater port. TuSimple earlier stated that the network will implemented in three parts, with the first phase focusing on a service region in the Southwest where the company already operates. Phase 1 of the project, which will run from 2020 to 2021, would connect Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Since then, it has extended to Florida.