Navistar International Corp. and autonomous truck startup TuSimple announced a partnership that will co-develop self-driving semi-trucks targeted for production by 2024.
The two companies have worked together for several years under a technology-sharing relationship. Lisle, Ill-based Navistar also has taken a minority stake in TuSimple, which is located in San Diego, Calif.
“Autonomous technology is entering our industry and will have a profound impact on our customers’ businesses,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar’s chief executive.
He said the partnership will leverage collective expertise “to integrate our vehicle design and systems integration capabilities with TuSimple’s innovative autonomous technology.
The trucks will have the badge and logos of Navistar’s International truck line.
TuSimple is pushing aggressively into autonomous trucking. Earlier this month it unveiled an agreement to team with UPS and other major trucking players to organize what it says will be the first autonomous freight network.
Besides UPS, the partners include Penske Truck Leasing, motor carrier U.S. Xpress and McLane, a national logistics company owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The goal is to create a nationwide network of digitally mapped routes connecting hundreds of terminals that will enable, low-cost long-haul autonomous freight operations starting in the Southwestern U.S., said Cheng Lu, TuSimple’s president.
“With the combined expertise of Navistar and TuSimple, we have a clear path to commercialize self-driving 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. But for now, those vehicles have a safety driver inside the cab to monitor the truck’s performance and take over the controls when needed. However, TuSimple told Trucks.com that it plans to demonstrate driverless operations in some time next year.
Navistar’s investment in TuSimple hedges the company’s technology bets. It has a broad technology and procurement alliance with Traton Group, the truck subsidiary of Volkswagen Group. They are co-developing new diesel heavy-duty truck engines. Volkswagen also owns about 17 percent of Navistar and has made an offer to acquire the rest of the company. Navistar is evaluating the bid.