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UPS has announced a minority stake in self-driving truck company, TuSimple.

The company has been trialling autonomous vehicles on a freight forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

TuSimple trucks use nine cameras and a pair of LIDAR sensors to navigate roads and hazards. LIDAR sensors measure distance by emitting light and detecting the energy as it reflects off surroundings, allowing it to map 3D space.

The self-driving trucks are class 8 tractor-trailers, which weigh over 33,000 pounds and have three or more axles. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ scale for self-driving vehicles, they are Level 4, meaning the onboard computer always has complete control—but the presence of a human driver is still legally required, and has been accompanied by an engineer.

UPS announces minority stake in self-driving truck company
Credit: Jakub Gorajek

“While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering,” said Scott Price, UPS’ chief strategy and transformation officer.

“All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition—and UPS will be there, as a leader in implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

According to TuSimple, their self-driving vehicles could reduce UPS’ purchased transportation costs by 30% during peak shipping season.

The United States Parcel Service also began trials with TuSimple in May, for long-haul mail routes between Phoenix and Dallas, Texas.

Sources: UPS, The Verge

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