Consumers may not be pining for self-driving vehicles, but that doesn’t mean the trucking industry isn’t moving ahead with them.
UPS has been testing self-driving tractor trailers in Arizona and now is making a minority investment in TuSimple, the autonomous driving company UPS has been working with.
UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a route between Phoenix and Tucson. The trials began in May and include a driver and an engineer in the vehicle.
The TuSimple technology aims to allow the operation of self-driving tractor trailers that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.
“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” stated Scott Price, chief strategy and transformation officer. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies.”
UPS said it is investing in Internet of Things technology, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service.
For the Arizona tests, UPS and TuSimple monitor the distance and time the trucks travel autonomously.
This is not the only activity around self-driving trucks. For example, Daimler Trucks recently created the Autonomous Technology Group, a global organization for automated driving, backed by a $570 million investment.
The U.S. Postal Service also partnered with TuSimple to test self-driving trucks to haul mail between distribution centers in Phoenix and Dallas.
Earlier this year, TuSimple raised $95 million in Series D funding, giving the company a valuation of $1 billion.
Besides the testing, money is pouring into the development of self-driving trucks.