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UPS Cargo Now Drives for Itself

UPS has been secretly delivering cargo in autonomous trucks run by self-driving freight truck startup TuSimple since May this year. [1]

UPS announced officially on Thursday that the company has made an investment in TuSimple, an autonomous truck startup. According to the partnership announcement, TuSimple has been helping UPS to reach level 4 autonomous driving. TuSimple’s technology relies on a combination of cameras and LIDAR sensors. The startup was founded in 2014 using Navistar trucks and equipped with its own driving technology [2]. 

TuSimple’s trucks have been hauling UPS packages between Phoenix and Tucson, a route about 115 miles long. Right after UPS and TuSimple’s program kicked off, the United States Postal Service and TuSimple also teamed up to test-drive autonomous truck mail delivery within the frame of a two-week pilot program.

UPS sees the partnership with TuSimple as an opportunity for them to explore new technologies and tailor solutions for the company.

 

Personal Comments

Autonomous vehicles will of course not only change how people get around but also the way goods are delivered. The hauling sector is perceived to be more conservative compared to other transport sectors with very small margins. That’s why seeing a 30% reduction in average costs raised my eyebrows.

UPS is of course not the first company that shows interest in autonomous trucks. Beside USPS mentioned in the main text, FedEx has been investing in autonomous trucks since a few years back, and also, the company unveiled its autonomous delivery robots earlier this year [3]. The more actors being interested in applying autonomous driving technology in their business, the sooner we will be able to get a complete picture of how our transport system with autonomous vehicles will look like in the near future. 

 

Written by Anne Faxér, RISE Viktoria.

 

Sources

1. 2019-08-15.UPS has been delivering cargo in self-driving trucks for months and no one knew.

2. 2019-08-15. UPS has been quietly delivering cargo using self-driving trucks.  

3. 2019-02-27. FedEx unveils autonomous delivery robot.