Self-Driving Truck Company to Soon Conduct ‘Driver Out’ Freight Runs for Rail Giant

San Diego, CA — A self-driving technology company will soon be hauling freight for a rail giant without a human in the truck.

In an announcement earlier this week, TuSimple, said Union Pacific Railroad will become the first customer to move freight on the company’s automated trucking route between the Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona metro areas.


“Starting this spring, TuSimple plans to carry ‘Driver Out freight’ for Union Pacific, utilizing groundbreaking autonomous vehicle (AV) technology to deliver goods to their destination faster and more cost-effectively,” TuSimple said.

Kenny Rocker, executive vice president of marketing and sales at Union Pacific, the largest Class I railroad in the U.S., said the deal with TuSimple will allow the company to “serve our customers faster and more efficiently.”

“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,” Rocker touted.


In December of last year TuSimple claimed it completed the “world’s first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention.”

The California tech startup said the run took place on Wednesday, December 22, from a rail yard in Tucson, AZ to a high-volume distribution center in the Phoenix-metro area.

Since that time, TuSimple says it has completed an additional six fully autonomous runs covering over 550 cumulative miles.

“Runs were conducted in various roadway conditions, including dense early-evening traffic and ‘back-to-back’ runs on the same night,” TuSimple said in a release this week.


Additionally, TuSimple said it not only plans to continue its “Driver Out” program but also “progressively expand its scope” promising to achieve commercial viability of “continuous ‘Driver Out’ paid freight operations in a significant shipping area” by the end of 2023.

“Our repeatable and scalable ‘Driver Out’ operations marks a significant inflection point in our company’s history,” said TuSimple CEO Cheng Lu. “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.”


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