UPS Quietly Using Self-Driving Trucks For Months

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UPS teamed up with TuSimple in May for autonomous delivery of cargo.

Gizmodo reports UPS Has Been Delivering Cargo in Self-Driving Trucks for Months And No One Knew.

UPS announced on Thursday that its venture capital arm has made a minority investment in TuSimple. The announcement also revealed that since May TuSimple autonomous trucks have been hauling UPS loads on a 115-mile route between Phoenix and Tucson.

UPS confirmed to Gizmodo this is the first time UPS has announced it has been using TuSimple autonomous trucks to deliver packages in the state.

Around the same time as the UPS and TuSimple program began, the United States Postal Service and TuSimple publicized a two-week pilot program to deliver mail between Phoenix and Dallas, a 1,000 mile trip.

TuSimple claims it can cut the average cost of shipping in a tractor-trailer by 30 percent. In an announcement about the new partnership, UPS Ventures managing partner, Todd Lewis, said the venture arm “collaborates with startups to explore new technologies and tailor them to help meet our specific needs.”

UPS would not share the terms of the deal with Gizmodo. TuSimple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TuSimple puts its own autonomous tech—which relies on nine cameras and two LIDAR sensors—in Navistar vehicles.

TuSimple Video

Zero engagements in a storm.

TuSimple is now hooked up with both UPS and the US Post Office (USPS).

On February 16, I commented Self-Driving Truck Startup "TuSimple" Confident of Commercial Driverless by 2021.

The company’s cameras can see about 1,000 meters, or 3,280 feet ahead, said Chuck Price, TuSimple’s chief product officer. “From a half mile away we can spot emergency vehicles, cars broken down on the side of the road, people walking around,” said Price.

We are confident that we will have our first commercial driverless operation in late 2020 to 2021,” Mr. Price said.

Technology Not the Holdup

For now there are backup drivers. That will change within the next two years.

The main holdup is not technology but federal legislation.

Commercial driverless will be here by the end of 2021 if federal regulation allows, which I expect.

Then, within a few years of federal regulatory approval, most interstate highway truck traffic will be driverless.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (40)
No. 1-12
themonosynaptic
themonosynaptic

You're looking more and more prescient on this subject Mish. The savings are estimated at 30%, but is that per trip, or will the cost savings of being able to run trucks 24/7 (i.e. not mandated driver stops) also kick in and lower costs further? Does anybody have a detailed breakdown of the savings? I'm assuming the up front costs will be greater.

Mish
Mish

Editor

I do not have a breakdown. If the 30% includes the cost of the equipment, the investment would pay itself off in about three years. I will write them to see if I can get an answer.

thimk
thimk

I'm all for self driving trucks. Currently, they rule the interstate highways. Maybe trucks tailgating me during bad weather will stop.

Sechel
Sechel

drivers eventually get replaced with security guards

shamrock
shamrock

More testing with human drivers in the truck. Doesn't seem like much of an advance.