UPS has announced  that its venture capital arm has made a minority investment in an autonomous vehicle start up, and that it has been trialling autonomous trucks  to deliverer parcels to customers in Arixzona.

UPS announced it had invested in the Arizona based start up TuSimple. and also revealed that since May that the TuSimple autonomous trucks have been hauling UPS loads on a 170km route between Phoenix and Tucson.

UPS confirmed  this is the first time UPS has announced it has been using TuSimple autonomous trucks to deliver packages in Arizona state.

Around the same time as the UPS and TuSimple program began, the United States Postal Service and TuSimple publicised a two-week pilot program to deliver mail between Phoenix and Dallas, a 1,600 km trip.

TuSimple claims it can cut the average cost of shipping using a prime mover-trailer by 30 per cent. In an announcement about the new partnership, UPS Ventures managing partner, Todd Lewis, said the venture arm “collaborates with startups to explore new technologies and tailor them to help meet our specific needs.”

UPS would not share the terms of the deal. while TuSimple apparently did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.

TuSimple puts its own autonomous tech in Navistar trucks ,with the system using nine cameras and two LIDAR sensors to run autonomously on  the set routes.