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October 29, 2020 12:45 PM, EDT

TuSimple to Build Hub in Texas, Expects Fully Driverless Routes in 2021

TuSimple's autonomous technology for trucks could yield fully driverless routes as early as next year. TuSimple's autonomous technology for trucks could yield fully driverless routes as early as next year. (Business Wire via AP)

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Global automated trucking company TuSimple is setting up shop at AllianceTexas’ newly launched Mobility Innovation Zone, which it hopes will bolster a national expansion and fully driverless testing.

The new hub will allow TuSimple to establish new shipping routes to Austin and Houston for its automated trucks. The company already moves freight between Texas and Arizona.

Currently, TuSimple trucks drive on their own but have what’s known as a “safety driver” behind the wheel and a test engineer in the passenger seat to monitor the vehicle, according to the company. But TuSimple expects that it will begin removing humans from the equation in 2021, demonstrating fully driverless transportation on a limited number of routes.

RELATED: TuSimple Hires Former FMCSA Official Jim Mullen

Developer Hillwood and TuSimple will begin construction on the hub in November and plan to complete the project by March 2021. It will support administrative personnel as well as autonomous truck operations and servicing for vehicles.

“We’re pleased to welcome TuSimple to Texas, adding the company to our nation-leading roster of firms engaged in the implementation of next-generation mobility platforms,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone provides the perfect infrastructure, landscape and scale for the company to launch their national expansion and ‘Texas Triangle’ operations.”

TuSimple already operates a facility in Texas, although it is dedicated to supporting UPS. The new center being built alongside Hillwood will be its first logistics hub in the state.

“TuSimple is building the world’s first autonomous freight network, and an important part of our strategy is to secure suitable locations for our terminals, and the Mobility Innovation Zone is exactly what we were looking for,” TuSimple Vice President of Strategy Lee White said in a statement.

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In this episode, host Michael Freeze takes a look at the surprising ways trucking companies are building strong, resilient cultures and attracting talent that stays. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
 

Automated trucking has found a convenient new home in North Texas in recent years. Companies such as TuSimple and Kodiak Robotics tried hauling shipments like mail, and tested self-driving vehicle tech with a safety driver behind the wheel on long stretches of Texas highway.

The announcement of the AllianceTexas site was lauded by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who said it underscores the city’s “prominent role as a global destination for companies engaged in mobility innovation.”

TuSimple joins other ambitious tech companies that already have operations at AllianceTexas’ Mobility Innovation Zone, including Bell, BNSF and Deloitte. The site also will be the future home of one of Facebook’s giant data centers.

Hillwood built the 26,000-acre AllianceTexas project north of Fort Worth, and the site is now home to at least 525 companies. Hillwood President Mike Berry has referred to AllianceTexas’ success as the result of a “continued collaborative relationship between public and private sectors.” The project generated an additional $7.3 billion in economic activity in 2019.

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