6th July 2020
U.S. autonomous freight network planned for 2023-2024
TuSimple, a trucking technology company, has announced a plan for the world's first Autonomous Freight Network (AFN) – an ecosystem consisting of autonomous trucks, digital mapped routes, strategically placed terminals, and TuSimple Connect, a proprietary autonomous operations monitoring system.
Collectively, these components will work together to create the safest and most efficient way to bring self-driving trucks to market. Partnering with TuSimple in the launch of the Autonomous Freight Network are UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, U.S. Xpress (who operate one of the largest carrier fleets in the country) and McLane, a Berkshire Hathaway company and one of the largest supply chain services leaders in the United States.
"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."
The Autonomous Freight Network will roll out in three phrases, laying the groundwork for commercially available, self-driving trucks:
U.S. Xpress, with a fleet size of 7,000, will provide additional lanes to aid TuSimple's L4 technology learning. With access to more lanes, TuSimple can advance its understanding of and refine its responses on the road, making it safer for professional truck drivers and those they share the highways with.
"For the past two years, U.S. Xpress has worked closely with TuSimple to help define carriers' needs for L4 trucks," said Eric Fuller, CEO of U.S. 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."
TuSimple already operates autonomously on seven different routes between Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Dallas. This fall, TuSimple will open a new shipping terminal in Dallas, allowing the self-driving truck company to service customers in the coveted "Texas triangle." The terminals are designed to give mid-sized customers access to the advantages of autonomous trucking. For high-volume customers, TuSimple will continue to map routes and deliver directly to their distribution centres.
With the Autonomous Freight Network, the company is also launching TuSimple Connect, an autonomous monitoring system to ensure safe operations and allow customers to track their freight in real-time.
Penske Truck Leasing, which operates more than 750 service facilities throughout North America, will help TuSimple to scale its fleet operations nationwide. Penske will also provide preventive maintenance and over-the-road service to TuSimple's L4 autonomous trucks to help keep them running day and night.
"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, Penske. "We look forward to our continued collaboration with TuSimple and supporting their fleet needs as this new freight network begins to scale."
The AFN integrates with existing logistics networks and transportation management systems to enable efficient, low-cost, long-haul autonomous freight operation. After the AFN rolls out across the United States, the company aims to replicate its strategy in Europe and Asia.