UPS announced today that it has been testing delivering cargos between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona using self-driving trucks. The test is part of its minority investment in TuSimple, a San Diego-based autonomous driving startup.
The pilot kicked off in May of this year with the goal of analyzing the requirements to remove the need for human intervention in autonomous trucks and give total control to onboard computers. UPS' test currently involves a driver and engineer onboard the tractor trailers to take control of the vehicles when necessary. The human intervention is intended to comply with existing laws.
Regarding the test, UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Scott Price, said:
“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. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”
Both companies are analyzing various transportation data including safety information, distance, and the time it takes for the trucks to ply a freight forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson. With its autonomous system, TuSimple claims it can help reduce the average cost UPS spends on third-party transportation services by 30%.