TuSimple teams with VW's Traton to bring autonomous truck tech to Europe
TuSimple is an autonomous trucking startup with some big ideas, and lately we’re starting to see how big those ideas really are. After revealing plans to establish a nationwide network for self-driving trucks in the US just a few months ago, TuSimple has now announced it will be taking its technology to Europe, through a new partnership with Volkswagen subsidiary Traton Group.
It was back in July that TuSimple revealed its vision for an autonomous trucking network across the US, which followed trials with the US Postal Service and shipping giant UPS. The latter actually acquired a minority stake in TuSimple and has now teamed up with the startup on the so-called Autonomous Freight Network, with the two hoping to service the entire contiguous US by 2023.
This would make use of TuSimple’s Level 4 autonomous trucks, which, like other vehicles with this degree of autonomy, are designed to have a computer in control for the entire trip. TuSimple achieves this through its “virtual driver” that draws on high-definition cameras, radar and lidar to build a 360-degree picture of its surroundings. Since its beginnings in 2015, TuSimple says it has now clocked several million kilometers of testing on public roads.
The newly announced partnership with Traton is of a similar nature to its agreement with UPS, in that Traton has also snapped up a minority stake in TuSimple. It is, however, described as a global partnership to develop self-driving trucks, with the first port of call a 300-km (186-mi) journey between the Swedish cities of Södertälje and Jönköping.
Here, Traton’s Scania trucks will be fitted with TuSimple’s Level 4 autonomous systems and travel between hubs in either city. Traton hopes to build on this and conduct trials in Germany, along with other countries, though no details are offered on a timeline for the trials or the company's wider plans.
“Our partnership with Traton Group accelerates the introduction of autonomous truck technology to new international markets, and we look forward to our global partnership,” says Cheng Lu, President, TuSimple. “The Traton Group has an excellent reputation and established a portfolio of world-class truck brands, their strategic investment in TuSimple is a powerful testimony to our technology and approach.”