Self-driving technology vendor TuSimple has added another truck fleet to its list of financial backers, announcing Thursday that truckload carrier U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. had made a “significant investment” in the company.
The new funding comes just days after the San Diego-based tech startup announced a similar deal with transportation and logistics provider Werner Enterprises Inc., and will help it bring to market its “autonomous solution for long-haul freight transportation,” TuSimple said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but U.S. Xpress President and CEO Eric Fuller has joined TuSimple’s executive advisory board and says his company is now “actively testing” the technology on select shipping lanes for some of its major customers.
While self-driving trucks will by definition displace certain driving jobs, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress said the industry will always have a need for professional drivers. However, the company pointed to labor shortages caused by a reduced number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) school graduates and the impact of the newly launched Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
“Autonomous trucks will give U.S. Xpress additional options for its shippers, and fold into a robust portfolio of solutions,” the company said in a release. Additional initiatives by U.S. Xpress include its tech-enabled fleet known as Variant and a brokerage offering that is set to roll out in coming months.
“We’re passionate about finding innovative solutions to industry challenges and investing now will give us a clear advantage when this technology matures in the years to come,” Fuller said in the release. “Additionally, the Executive Advisory Board is bringing together market-specific insight from across the industry to help drive the development and adoption of this important technology.”
In addition to the U.S. Xpress deal, TuSimple has also expanded that advisory board in recent days by adding representatives from Schneider, Werner, Canadian National, and VectoIQ, as well as former U.S. congressmen Jeff Denham and Jim Kolbe.
Today we announced the members of the TuSimple Executive Advisory Board (EAB). The newly established EAB brings together a mix of world-class industry and regulatory leaders in transportation to help accelerate the adoption of autonomous trucks. pic.twitter.com/8QunpmU2aG— TuSimple (@TuSimpleAI) January 21, 2021