Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

TuSimple network to enable autonomous lorries across USA

Steve Rogerson
July 14, 2020

Californian autonomous trucking technology company TuSimple has launched an autonomous freight network, an ecosystem consisting of autonomous lorries, digital mapped routes, strategically placed terminals and TuSimple Connect, a proprietary autonomous operations monitoring system.
Collectively these components are said to work together to create a safe and efficient way to bring self-driving lorries to market.
Partnering with TuSimple in the launch of the autonomous freight network (AFN) are UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, US Xpress and McLane, a Berkshire Hathaway company and one of the largest supply chain services companies in the USA.
“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,” said Cheng Lu, president of TuSimple. “By launching the AFN 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.”
The network will roll out in three phrases, and lays the groundwork for self-driving autonomous lorries to be commercially available by 2024:

  • Phase I (2020-21) will offer service between the cities of Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
  • Phase II (2022-23) will expand the service from Los Angeles to Jacksonville and connect the east coast with the west.
  • Phase III (2023-24) will expand driverless operations nationwide adding major shipping routes throughout the lower 48 states allowing customers to use their own TuSimple equipped autonomous trucks on the network by 2024.
The company plans to replicate the strategy in Europe and Asia after the network rolls out across the USA.
US Xpress, with a fleet size of 7000 operating across the USA, will provide additional lanes to aid TuSimple’s L4 technology learning. With access to more lanes, TuSimple can advance its understanding of and refine its responses on the road, making it safer for professional lorry drivers and those with whom they share the highways.
“For the past two years, US Xpress has worked closely with TuSimple to help define carriers’ needs for L4 trucks,” said Eric Fuller, chief executive officer of US Xpress. “We are interested in understanding how TuSimple technology can make our fleet safer and more fuel efficient as well as how it can improve the overall delivery experience for our professional drivers and customers.”
TuSimple already operates autonomously on seven routes between Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso and Dallas. This autumn, TuSimple will open a shipping terminal in Dallas, allowing it to service customers in the coveted Texas triangle. The terminals are designed to give mid-sized users access to the advantages of autonomous trucking.
For high-volume users, TuSimple will continue to map routes and deliver directly to their distribution centres.
With the network, the company is also launching TuSimple Connect, an autonomous operations monitoring system to ensure safe autonomous operations and allow users to track their freight in real time.
Penske Truck Leasing, which operates more than 750 service facilities throughout North America, will help TuSimple scale its fleet operations nationwide. Penske will also provide preventive maintenance and over-the-road service to TuSimple’s L4 autonomous lorries to help keep them running day and night.
“Penske has always been committed to supporting its customers and innovation when it comes to mobility,” said Bill Combs, vice president at Penske. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with TuSimple and supporting their fleet needs as this new freight network begins to scale.”
The network integrates with existing logistics networks and transportation management systems to enable efficient, low-cost long-haul autonomous freight operations. Additionally, the technology allows autonomous lorries to be 10% more fuel-efficient than manually driven trucks, and in the future operate continuously without hours of service limitations. These advantages provide provide more asset use and cost savings.
TuSimple is headquartered in San Diego, California, with facilities in Tucson, Shanghai and Beijing. It is developing commercial-ready SAE level-four autonomous driving technology to meet the demands of long-haul heavy-duty lorries and aims to transform the $800bn US trucking industry. The company was founded in 2015 and reached unicorn status in 2019.