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January 20, 2021 1:00 PM, EST

Werner Invests in TuSimple to Spur Autonomous Trucking

Schneider CEO Joins TuSimple Advisory Panel
Werner, TuSimple trucksWerner by Werner Enterprises Inc.; TuSimple by Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics

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Transportation and logistics provider Werner Enterprises announced it invested in TuSimple, an autonomous trucking technology company founded in 2015, and described it as an important milestone in the journey to become an environmental leader.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

It is intended to demonstrate, among other things, Werner’s focus on the growth and deployment of automated driving systems, the regulations required for increased safety, reduced carbon emissions and eventual industry adoption, according to the Omaha, Neb.-based company.

TuSimple is focused on improving truck safety and fuel efficiency through its SAE Level 4 technology, in which the vehicle can travel without driver input or backup assistance, at least within specific areas and conditions.

Derek Leathers

Leathers

“Our customers are experiencing continued business transformation, one that requires immediate fulfillment, industry leading service and safety and a greater desire for solutions that further their business and the sustainability of our planet,” Werner CEO Derek Leathers said in a press release.

At the same time, staying current with emerging technologies helps improve drivers’ lives, keeps them safer, provides drivers with “best-in-class equipment and helps them achieve long-term careers in the trucking industry,” he added.

In related news, TuSimple announced it added to its executive advisory board Schneider CEO Mark Rourke. Motor carrier and logistics company Schneider took a “nominal investment” in TuSimple and will provide a test fleet as it, too, shapes the future of autonomous trucking.

In recent years, Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider has invested in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control, which are the foundation of autonomous vehicle technology. 

Schneider ranks No. 5 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. It ranks No. 18 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies.

Werner's investment in TuSimple followed Werner’s announcement in May of Werner EDGE, an initiative that promotes technology-rich driver solutions — including machine learning to improve critical event management, cloud-based breakdown management and tablet-based telematics.

Werner Enterprises ranks No. 16 on the for-hire TT100 and No. 17 on the logistics Top 50.

 

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Meanwhile, TuSimple, which has offices in San Diego and China, added other partnerships over the past year.

In September, TuSimple and Traton Group, Volkswagen AG’s heavy-truck unit, announced a partnership to develop SAE Level 4 self-driving trucks, calling it a first in Europe. Traton also took a minority stake in TuSimple.

In July, TuSimple and truck and engine maker Navistar International Corp. announced a strategic partnership to co-develop SAE Level 4 self-driving trucks targeted for production by 2024.

TuSimple's Cheng Lu

Lu

In November, the boards of directors at Traton and Navistar approved a definitive agreement to merge as part of a transaction valued at $3.7 billion.

TuSimple President Cheng Lu told Transport Topics at the time of its announcement with Navistar: “What we are doing is designing, basically a new truck. The brains, what the body looks like, where you put the sensors, how you get the power. They’re not just buying a component from us. So you can imagine the amount of work that takes. It is something we have to be very selective about in terms of partnerships.”

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