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Autonomous FreightAutonomous VehiclesNewsTechnologyTop Stories

DHL latest to take on multiple autonomous trucking partners

Global shipper joins Ryder, Nvidia and others as recurring players in driverless trucks

Nvidia. Ryder System. Cummins Inc. UPS. Daimler Truck. All have more than one autonomous trucking relationship. 

Add to that list Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL, the global provider of international express, air and ocean freight forwarding, contract logistics, and e-commerce services.

After being revealed as a member of the Embark Trucks Partnership Development Program (PDP) in late October, DHL (OTC: DPSGY) is in camp with TuSimple Holdings. It has placed a $50,000 deposit to reserve 100 high-autonomy International trucks that TuSimple (NASDAQ: TSP) and Navistar are co-developing to operate without a human driver in 2024.

It brings the number of nonbinding reservations for TuSimple to 6,875.

Two partnerships

DHL earlier in December began daily freight haul operations using TuSimple’s San Antonio-to-Dallas Autonomous Freight Network. TuSimple and DHL have begun a global partnership to adopt, integrate and scale TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology into DHL’s operations.

Separately, DHL plans to deploy Embark software-equipped autonomous trucks within its operations when the Embark Universal Interface software launches in 2024. Embark and DHL are trying to identify the best-suited lanes and customers for early deployments. Embark has not said how many of its 14,200 nonbinding reservations are from DHL.


Watch now: TuSimple on Interstate 10


“Partnering with leading-edge technology companies is foundational to our digital transformation strategy, and TuSimple will play a key role in supporting our adoption of next-wave transportation solutions,” Jim Monkmeyer, president, transportation, DHL Supply Chain, said in a press release Thursday.

He had the same message in slightly different words when DHL’s work with Embark (NASDAQ: EMBK) was announced.

“The logistics industry relies on advanced technology solutions like automation to adapt to growing demand and increased expectations around speed,” he was quoted in Embark’s Oct. 28 press release. “DHL joined Embark’s PDP to prepare for and mold the deployment of autonomous trucks across its network.”

Embark Trucks was the first to reveal a partnership with DHL. Now, TuSimple has the the global provider of international express, air and ocean freight forwarding, contract logistics and e-commerce services in its camp. (Photo: Embark Trucks)

Exclusivity? Not so much

Exclusive partnerships are rare in the autonomous space, whether it’s a truck manufacturer or a supplier. 

“I don’t think [exclusivity is] important or realistic,” Cheng Lu, TiSimple president and CEO, told FreightWaves. “On the trucking side, it’s not like UPS only works with one company.”

In fact, UPS (NYSE: UPS) is working with Waymo Via on a pilot in Texas that may help ease some of the holiday shipping crunch worsened by the broken supply chain. TuSimple has been working with UPS longer, recently surpassing 160,000 driver-supervised autonomous miles.

Daimler Trucks works with independent subsidiary Torc Robotics and with Waymo Via. Both are working on Daimler’s Freightliner Cascadia chassis developed for autonomous trucking. Aurora Innovation (NASDAQ: AUR) partners with both Paccar Inc. and Volvo Trucks.

Chipmaker Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) is ubiquitous as the data processor for nearly all autonomous truck makers. Cummins (NYSE: CMI) provides a powertrain interface to TuSimple, Embark and Kodiak Robotics that allows the autonomous system to communicate with the engine. 

Ryder System (NYSE: R) signed on with TuSimple, Waymo, Gatik and Embark, gaining a window into autonomous development in exchange for sharing its maintenance expertise and network of depots.

“The more engagement the ecosystem has, it’s good for the whole industry. Think about electric vehicle adoption 10 or 12 years ago. It wasn’t to try to beat other competitors, it was trying to get adoption, to get users to use it.”

cheng lu, president and ceo, tusimple holdings

“The more engagement the ecosystem has, it’s good for the whole industry,” Lu said. “Think about electric vehicle adoption 10 or 12 years ago. It wasn’t to try to beat other competitors, it was trying to get adoption, to get users to use it.

“I prefer no competition, but overall you should think of it as healthy and positive for the industry.”

TuSimple tops 160,000 autonomous miles with UPS, expands robot-driven freight network

Ryder storms deeper into trucking autonomy in tie-up with Waymo Via

Nvidia will compute crushing loads of Embark autonomous data

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2) and Ryder System (No. 22).

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.