Union Pacific to use TuSimple Autonomous Trucking

  • February 16, 2022
  • William Payne

America’s largest railway, Union Pacific, is set to become TuSimple’s first customer for its fully automated trucking route connecting Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.

Union Pacific subsidiary Loup Logistics will coordinate freight shipments and movement between rail and first and last miles.

Starting this spring, TuSimple plans to carry Driver Out freight for Union Pacific, using AV (autonomous vehicle) technology to deliver goods to their destination faster and more cost-effectively.

TuSimple is also adding an additional six fully autonomous runs. The seven total runs covered over 550 cumulative miles on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, without any teleoperation, and without any traffic intervention. Runs have been conducted in various roadway conditions, including dense early-evening traffic and “back-to-back” runs on the same night. 

TuSimple plans to continue its ‘Driver Out’ programme and progressively expand its scope to incorporate daytime runs and new routes while making regular improvements to its proprietary AV technology. By the end of 2023, TuSimple plans to achieve commercial viability by initiating continuous ‘Driver Out’ paid freight operations in a significant shipping area such as the ‘Texas Triangle.’

To scale its operations in preparation for a nationwide expansion, the company recently provided technical specifications to commercial real-estate developers to prepare for future autonomous trucking operations, including a million square foot state-of-the-art facility within a 27,000-square-acre development as part of the AllianceTexas.

“Partnering with TuSimple allows us to extend our operations beyond our rail hubs and serve our customers faster and more efficiently,” said Kenny Rocker, Executive Vice President – Marketing & Sales, Union Pacific. “This groundbreaking autonomous driving technology and our partnership provide us a significant opportunity to scale the technology in our network, proactively reducing global supply chain congestion.”

“Our repeatable and scalable ‘Driver Out’ operations marks a significant inflection point in our company’s history. We are the world’s first to complete all of the features of AV trucking technology,” said Cheng Lu, President, and CEO, TuSimple. “We are proud of our on-time delivery of this historic milestone and are excited to shift our full focus to commercialising our ground-breaking technology on an accelerated timeline.”