TuSimple completes autonomous pilot for fresh food

  • May 31, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

California-based TuSimple and Giumarra have joined forces with Associated Wholesale Grocers, (AWG), the USA’s largest cooperative food wholesaler, to move fresh produce using autonomous lorries.

In partnership with Giumarra, an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers, and the AWG, TuSimple completed an autonomous driving pilot resulting in faster service, fresher food and less waste.

Last month, TuSimple picked up a load of fresh watermelons from Giumarra’s facility in Nogales, Arizona, and transported the produce across four states to AWG’s distribution centre in Oklahoma, where the fruit was inspected and distributed to Doc’s Country Mart and Homeland grocery stores across the state.

The pick-up and delivery of the produce was done manually with a human driver, while the longest portion of the journey from Tucson, Arizona, to Dallas, Texas, was done autonomously using TuSimple’s self-driving technology. The autonomous portion of the journey covered more than 1400km.

A human driver can complete the entire trip in 24 hours and six minutes. TuSimple’s autonomous system can make this trip in 14 hours and six minutes, which is 42% faster.

“Autonomous trucking technology is a real game-changer for us,” said Tim Riley, president of Giumarra Companies, “as its time and cost efficiencies provide us with an enhanced opportunity to supply fresher fruits and vegetables across the USA, particularly to food deserts and rural communities.”

While package delivery, large freight carriers and commercial railroads are already leveraging TuSimple’s autonomous trucking, one of the most promising applications is within the food industry.

“We believe the food industry is one of many that will greatly benefit from the use of TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology,” said Jim Mullen, chief administrative officer at TuSimple. “Given the fact that autonomous trucks can operate nearly continuously without taking a break means fresh produce can be moved from origin to destination faster, resulting in fresher food and less waste.”

TuSimple is an autonomous driving technology company headquartered in San Diego, California, with operations in Arizona, Texas, China, Japan and Europe. Founded in 2015, it is developing commercial-ready level-four (SAE) fully autonomous driving technology for long-haul heavy-duty lorries. The firm aims to transform the $4tn global truck freight industry through its proprietary AI technology, which makes it possible for lorries to see 1km away, operate nearly continuously and consume 10% less fuel than manually driven trucks.

Giumarra Companies is an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers. Since its inception in 1922, the group of companies has had a longstanding commitment and tradition of quality and service. Products packed under the company’s Nature’s Partner label are said to represent some of the highest-quality fruits and vegetables in the market.