The start-up of self-propelled freight transport TuSimple has been mailing throughout Arizona for several weeks.
UPS announced on Thursday that the venture capital arm has made a minority investment in TuSimple. The announcement also revealed that since May, TuSimple autonomous trucks have been hauling UPS cargo on a 115-mile route between Phoenix and Tucson.
UPS confirmed to Gizmodo, this is the first time UPS announces that they have used TuSimple autonomous trucks to deliver parcels in the state.
About the same time that the UPS and TuSimple program began, the United States Postal Service and TuSimple published a two-week pilot program to deliver mail between Phoenix and Dallas, a 1,000-mile trip.
TuSimple claims it can cut the average shipping cost of a tractor trailer by 30 percent. In an announcement about the new partnership, UPS Ventures managing partner Todd Lewis said the venture arm "is working with startups to explore new technologies and tailor them to help meet our specific needs."
UPS would not share the terms of the agreement with Gizmodo. TuSimple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As Verge reports, TuSimple puts its own autonomous technology – which relies on nine cameras and two LIDAR sensors – into Navistar vehicles.
The partnership statement states that TuSimple has helped UPS understand how to get to level 4 autonomous driving where a vehicle is completely autonomous and capable of to reach a certain place. At this point, TuSimple trucks that pack for UPS still have an engineer and a security driver riding. When the UPS reaches level 4, it does not need anyone behind the wheel.