Intermodal 2.0, TuSimple - The Road To Autonomy

Intermodal 2.0

Cheng Lu, President & CEO, TuSimple joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss Driver Out and Intermodal 2.0.

The conversation begins with Cheng reflecting on the last twelve months. From a traditional IPO to Driver Out, TuSimple has made incredible strides as the business and technology scale.

Driver Out is one of our big milestones we had for 2021. It’s clearly a critical path to commercialization.

-Cheng Lu

As TuSimple prepares to commercialize its Driver Out autonomous freight operations, the company announced on February 2, 2022, that it had successfully completed over 550 miles of Driver Out on open public roads in real-world conditions. Cheng goes on to explain how the company is planning to scale the program.

Over the next two years we are scaling the ODD (Operational Design Domain), so day time, new routes.

– Cheng Lu

The annual inflation rate for overall trucking costs is 17%. For the long-haul trucking sector, the annual inflation rate is 25%. With TuSimple successfully launching Driver Out, Grayson asks Cheng how TuSimple’s autonomous trucks can help to lower their customer’s inflation costs.

Our mission is to lower the cost of freight transportation.

– Cheng Lu

With Driver Out in the process of scaling, TuSimple and Union Pacific announced a partnership in which TuSimple will help Union Pacific extend their operations. The partnership will allow Union Pacific to expand their network by using autonomous trucks where rail infrastructure is not available.

If you could mix autonomy into their supply chain and to their network, it could add a lot more flexibility to their network. It can also help them expand their reach of their network, that today their train tracks do not get to. It’s very expensive now to build any new railroad tracks and so if you can leverage autonomy for that, it’s significant.

– Cheng Lu

This is another example of Union Pacific embracing emerging trends that will have an overall positive benefit on their business. Union Pacific had a similar move in 1936 when the company developed Sun Valley and connected the resort to Los Angeles via rail. The all-encompassing travel experience package was invented.

Could the Union Pacific / TuSimple partnership usher in the future of freight shipping? Cheng and the team at TuSimple view it as intermodal 2.0 where autonomous trucks, rail, and human-driven trucks will all complement each other to shore up the supply chain.

Autonomous trucking could be intermodal 2.0.

– Cheng Lu

Wrapping up the conversation, Cheng discusses the economic benefits of Driver Out and scaling the TuSimple business.

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Recorded on Monday, February 7, 2022