Driverless truck company launches ‘World’s First Autonomous Freight Network’

On Wednesday, a California tech company announced that they were partnering with some of the largest trucking companies in the U.S. to lauch a nationwide — and then global — autonomous freight network.

On July 1, San Diego based-tech company TuSimple went public with their plans for the “world’s first” Autonomous Freight Network (AFN), which they describe as “an ecosystem consisting of autonomous trucks, digital mapped routes, strategically placed terminals.”

TuSimple says that they’ve launched AFN in partnership with UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, U.S. Xpress and McLane, a supply chain services company.

The company says that the AFN will roll out in three phases and will lay the groundwork for self-driving trucks to become commercially available by 2024.

  • Phase I (2020-21) will offer service between the cities of PhoenixTucsonEl PasoDallas, Houston, and San Antonio
  • Phase II (2022-23) will expand AFN 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 utilize their own TuSimple equipped autonomous trucks on the AFN by 2024.

After Phase III, TuSimple plans to expand the AFN into Europe and Asia.

TuSimple says that they’re already operating autonomous trucks on seven different routes between Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Dallas. They plan to open a new terminal in Dallas in the fall of 2020.

U.S. Xpress says that they’ve provided TuSimple with additional lanes to help the company gather data and refine their autonomous driving technology. “For the past two years, U.S. Xpress has worked closely with TuSimple to help define carriers’ needs for L4 trucks,” said Eric Fuller, President and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. 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.”

Check out the video below for more on the AFN.