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Trucking Start-Up TuSimple Commercializes Autonomous Trips

Trucking start-up TuSimple is reportedly taking 3-5 fully autonomous commercial trips per day for their customers on three different routes in Arizona, USA [1].

The China-based start-up has stated that all of the trips have two safety engineers present; one who is behind the wheel, and another one monitoring the data gathered during each trip.

TuSimple are not disclosing who their customers are but said at CES 2019 that they have a total of 12 contracted customers and are planning to expand from 11 operating autonomous trucks to 40 by June of this year.

An additional route from Arizona to Texas will also be introduced in early 2019, the company said.

TuSimple is working towards developing a Level 4 system (as defined by SAE) which would enable the truck to take over all of the driving in certain scenarios. A critical point in their solution is the usage of camera-centric perception solutions that differ from the focus on the usage of LiDAR that much of the autonomous vehicle tech industry is focused on.

They currently race to grab a hold of the future autonomous truck industry against incumbent OEMs, such as Volvo, Daimler and Tesla, but also against other startups with visionary plans, such as Starsky robotics, Embark, Einride and Uber owned Otto [2].

 

Personal comments

With the introduction of automation, both the cost structure and utilization of trucks are likely to be heavily impacted. An impact that might also trickle down to the cost of consumer goods. How savings made from automation will be distributed is still unknown, but with the accelerated growth of e-commerce, the demand for trucking of goods is growing.  

Also, if OEMs choose to retain the liability for their autonomous trucks they will likely be further inclined to develop transport-as-a-service solutions to control the maintenance and usage of their trucks. Small pilots like this one could be a way to gather data and learn before expanding their business.

 

Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE Viktoria.

 

Source

1. 2019-02-07. Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple is taking 3 to 5 commercial trips a day.

2. 2018-07-16. These 6 companies are making the self-driving truck a reality.