UPS puts money, testing efforts behind autonomous upstart TuSimple

UPS Ventures, the venture capital arm of global parcel delivery behemoth UPS, announced Thursday it has made a minority investment in autonomous truck driving company TuSimple.

UPS and TuSimple, who currently hauls cargo on the road for 17 customers, are currently jointly testing self-driving tractor-trailers on a route in Arizona.

Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has provided truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a route between Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. The company initiated self-driving service in May with a driver and engineer in the vehicle.

TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, as well as safety data and transport time. The package delivery giant is seeking to better understand the requirements for Level 4 autonomous trucking and the potential benefits of employing the technology.

“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,” UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price said.

In May, the United States Postal Service (USPS) contracted with TuSimple on a series of 1,000-plus mile trips, hauling mail between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Ariz. and Dallas, Texas distribution centers.