SAN DIEGO—TuSimple Inc. has launched an autonomous freight network that it says will expedite the race to fully self-driving commercial vehicles.
Working with partners UPS Inc., Penske Truck Leasing, carrier fleet operator U.S. Xpress and supply chain services company McLane, the self-driving truck company said that the network would create "the safest and most efficient way to bring self-driving trucks to market."
The network integrates with existing logistics networks and transportation management systems and consists of autonomous trucks, digitally mapped routes, "strategically placed" terminals and the company's autonomous operations monitoring system, TuSimple Connect.
The shipping terminals "give mid-sized customers access to advantages of autonomous trucking," according to a statement. The TuSimple Connect system, launched with the network, aims to ensure safe autonomous operations and real-time tracking of freight vehicles.
The partnerships will benefit TuSimple as it develops its Level 4 autonomous commercial vehicle technology. U.S. Xpress operates a fleet of 7,000 vehicles across the country and will provide additional lanes to further TuSimple's technology development. Penske Truck Leasing will help TuSimple scale its operations and will provide preventative maintenance for its trucks.
TuSimple said it will roll out the network in three phases in the U.S., then repeat the strategy in Europe and Asia.
The first phase, to be implemented this year and through 2021, will offer service among Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.; El Paso, Texas; Dallas; Houston; and San Antonio.
Phase two will expand the service from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Fla., connecting the East and West coasts between 2022 and 2023.
The third phase will add major shipping routes throughout the country and allow customers to utilize their own TuSimple-equipped autonomous trucks on the network by 2024.
"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," TuSimple President Cheng Lu said in the statement. "By launching the (network) 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."