American multinational parcel delivery company UPS announced that it has purchased a minority share in TuSimple, an autonomous vehicle startup. UPS has reportedly been testing the trucks since May.
The investment was made by UPS Ventures, the company’s venture capital branch, according to press reports.
UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Scott Price, said the partnership ensures that UPS will remain in the vanguard of the industry in terms of employing the latest technologies.
“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” he said. “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.
“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 implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”
Xiaodi Hou, founder and president of TuSimple, said his company is proud to partner with the world’s leading package delivery company:
“We are honored by UPS’s strategic investment and their vote of confidence in TuSimple, this proves their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation. TuSimple is confident that it can accelerate bringing the first self-driving truck to market to increase road safety.”
While it will take time to test and fully develop the self-driving trucks, Todd Lewis, managing partner at UPS Ventures, said the investment will soon allow UPS to utilize other new innovations, e.g., lane departure technology, advanced braking systems and sensor technology.
“From the regulatory perspective there is a long way to go,” Lewis said. “But the technology has a ton of implications today.”