TuSimple has been testing its self-driving trucks, with human overseers, on Interstate 10 from it Tucson terminal to Phoenix. A venture-capital arm of shipping giant UPS has made a minority investment in self-driving-truck startup TuSimple, which has its major research and development operation and truck-testing terminal in Tucson.
The investment by UPS Ventures comes as UPS has been testing self-driving tractor-trailers and contracting loads with TuSimple on a route between Tucson and Phoenix to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network, the companies said Thursday.
TuSimple and several development partners have been testing self-driving trucks in Tucson since 2017, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle under current rules governing autonomous trucking. The company has been carrying paid loads since last year.
“While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering,” Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said in a news release.
UPS said the test program is part of an advanced technology evaluation under the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network, which includes investments in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service.
TuSimple has previously reported raising about $178 million in funding since 2015 from investors, including Chinese internet giant Sina Weibo and Nvidia.