Autonomous driving technology company TuSimple announced on Tuesday that they have entered into a partnership with railroad giant Union Pacific to haul freight in Arizona.

The San Diego-based company announced in a February 2, 2022, news release that Union Pacific will the first customer to move freight on TuSimple’s fully-automated trucking route between the Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona metro areas.

TuSimple says that they’ll begin hauling Union Pacific freight in the spring of 2022 with a “Driver Out” operation relying on autonomous vehicle technology — meaning that there will be no human within the cab.

“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.”

TuSimple says that the Union Pacific partnership is the next step in building on the company’s “Driver Out” operations.

TuSimple completed a worlds-first “Driver Out” truck run from Tucson to Phoenix on December 22, 2021. Since that time, TuSimple trucks have completed an additional six successful fully autonomous runs totaling over 550 cumulative miles on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, without any teleoperation, and without any traffic intervention. TuSimple says that these runs were conducted during various road conditions including dense early-evening traffic and “back-to-back” runs on the same night. 

TuSimple plans to refine “Driver Out” technology through day time runs and new routes in order to bring commercially viable operations to a significant shipping area such as the ‘Texas Triangle’ by 2023.

“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 commercializing our ground-breaking technology on an accelerated timeline.”

Check out the video below for more on TuSimple’s “Driver Out” operations.

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