Here at TuSimple we are putting our mission to bring safe, reliable, autonomous freight capacity to the market at scale into action. We have driven many autonomous miles in the real world, providing us with valuable insights for refining our autonomous driving system while also delivering real commercial freight to our customers safely.
Over the last two and a half years, we have been hauling freight autonomously for UPS’s North American Air Freight division (NAFF). We currently run autonomous missions with NAAF across the southwest and expect to expand to the east coast soon. Our autonomous testing has given us the opportunity to further the development of our autonomous driving system by navigating in various environments, encountering new edge cases, and optimizing our commercialization strategy.
From the time we began hauling freight for NAAF to the end of Q3 ’21, we accumulated over 160,000 autonomous miles for NAAF. To our knowledge, no other autonomous trucking company is operating such a significant autonomous freight operation for a customer. Running these autonomous miles is critical to our growth as a company. We are able to collect data to further our autonomous driving system development, while helping to solve a customer’s transportation needs and preparing them for autonomous operations. Adoption of this technology takes time, and we are encouraged to see customers like UPS taking a forward looking approach by integrating autonomous technology into their networks. Incorporating this technology today enables us to prepare their network to adopt full driverless operations after our L4 technology is ready to commercialize at scale.
Our operations with UPS NAAF also provided significant real-world validation of the significant potential environmental benefits from our autonomous driving system. Our results over these 160,000 road miles exceeded the fuel efficiency performance of the already substantial fuel savings data that we observed in our 2019 study with the University of California San Diego. Our autonomous driving system has delivered over 13% fuel savings when operating in the optimal long-haul operating band between 55 to 68 miles per hour. These savings illustrate the significant positive environmental impact autonomous trucking can have on the transportation industry. We believe our system’s enhanced fuel efficiency will be greatly beneficial to and appreciated by our shipper and carrier partners as well as the regulatory community. Reducing carbon emissions is important to TuSimple and to our customers. We look forward to learning even more about how our trucks can positively impact the environment and provide autonomous technology benefits.
In addition to environmental benefits, the fuel savings our technology has demonstrated have the potential to significantly lower freight costs for our customers. Fuel represents almost 25% of trucking’s variable cost structure, and over the last year, the price of diesel fuel has increased considerably. This has a significant impact on the cost of freight including increasing fuel surcharges borne by shippers. Our technology’s fuel savings benefits can translate into billions of dollars of potential cost savings for the freight ecosystem.
While we will continue to run freight for NAAF in the southwest, we are also expanding our Autonomous Freight Network to the east coast. We have already expanded our network of high definition (HD) maps from Dallas to UPS NAFF terminals in Orlando and Charlotte. By mapping these lanes, we have laid down the digital railroad tracks that should enable us to begin commercial autonomous runs to Orlando and Charlotte for NAAF.
We are truly excited to see the benefits of our technology already coming to fruition, but our work doesn’t stop here. At TuSimple, we plan to continue to polish our autonomous driving technology by hauling freight autonomously on new lanes so that we can deliver the highest quality, safest, autonomous trucking product to the market.