Navistar International has announced it has teamed up with autonomous truck startup company, TuSimple, forging a partnership with the goal of co-developing self-driving prime movers, with the target of production by 2024.
The two companies have worked together for several years under a technology-sharing relationship, and Navistar has now taken a minority stake in TuSimple.
“Autonomous technology is entering our industry and will have a profound impact on our customers’ businesses,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar’s recently appointed CEO.
Lisboa said the partnership will leverage collective expertise “to integrate Navistar vehicle design and systems integration capabilities with TuSimple’s innovative autonomous technology.
The trucks will be badged as Internationals but will have TuSimple’s latest tech autonomous capability built in from the start.
In early July TuSimple announced that it had signed an agreement with UPS and other major trucking players to organize what it says will be the first autonomous freight network as part of its aggressive push into the autonomous commercial transport.
Along with UPS, TuSimple has established partnerships with Penske Truck Leasing, major carrier US Express, the Berkshir Hathaway owned national logistic giant McLane.
TuSimple’s president, Cheng Lu, said the goal is to create a network of digitally mapped routes across the USA connecting hundreds of terminals enabling, low-cost long-haul autonomous freight operations starting in the South western U.S
“With the combined expertise of Navistar and TuSimple, we have a clear path to commercialize self-driving heavy duty Class 8 trucks at scale,” Lu said.
TuSimple and Navistar said they will have a fully integrated self-driving truck ready for mass-production at the truck builder’s factories by 2024. Customers will be able to purchase fully autonomous trucks through Navistar’s traditional sales channels in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
TuSimple already operates a fleet of 40 self-driving trucks in the U.S., shipping freight autonomously between Arizona and Texas. Those trucks do have a ‘safety driver’ in the cab, monitoring the truck’s performance and able to take over the controls when needed. However, TuSimple has said it plans to demonstrate driverless operations ome time in the next 12 month.
Navistar’s investment in TuSimple hedges the company’s technology bets given it’s technology and procurement alliance with VW’s Traton Group, which also owns 17 per cent of Navisar.
The Traton and Navistar are working on co-developing new heavy-duty diesel truck engines and Traton is hoping to buy the remaining 83 per cent of Navistar to take full control of the company. Navistar and its current other major shareholders are still evaluating the bid.