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TuSimple becomes first to successfully operate driver out, fully autonomous semi-truck on open public roads

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TuSimple becomes first to successfully operate driver out, fully autonomous semi-truck on open public roads. Image: TuSimple
TuSimple becomes first to successfully operate driver out, fully autonomous semi-truck on open public roads. Image: TuSimple
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TuSimple, a global autonomous driving technology company, successfully completed the world’s first fully autonomous semi-truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention. The run took place on December 22nd and required TuSimple’s upfitted autonomous semi-truck to begin its journey from a large railyard in Tucson, Arizona, and travel more than 80 miles on surface streets and highways at night, safely arriving at a high-volume distribution center in the Phoenix metro area. Along the journey, TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.

The one-hour and 20-minute drive is the first time a class 8 autonomous truck has operated on open public roads without a human in the vehicle and without human intervention and is part of an ongoing test program that will continue into 2022. The test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. The autonomous driving test was 100% operated by TuSimple’s ADS without a human on-board, without remote human control of the vehicle, and without traffic intervention.

“By achieving this momentous technical milestone, we demonstrated the advanced capabilities of TuSimple’s autonomous driving system and the commercial maturity of our testing process, prioritizing safety and collaboration every step of the way. This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale,” said Cheng Lu, President, and CEO, TuSimple. “This year, we were laser-focused on putting our technology through a rigorous test on open public roads under real-world conditions, and to see all our hard work and dedication come together is extremely rewarding.”

To ensure public safety, TuSimple worked closely with government regulators and law enforcement and implemented a TuSimple survey vehicle to look for anomalies operating over five miles ahead, an oversight vehicle capable of putting the autonomous truck in a minimal risk condition (MRC) trailing behind, and law enforcement vehicles following at a distance of 0.5 miles as an extra layer of safety precaution.

TuSimple’s “Driver Out” pilot program is the culmination of 1.5 years of work to develop an L4 autonomous semi-truck with the level of redundancy, reliability, and consistency to safely take the driver out on public roads. This is a critical first step in scaling autonomous trucking operations on the TuSimple Autonomous Freight Network (AFN).

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Logistics & Supply Chain

FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule

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FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule. Image: FedEx
FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule. Image: FedEx
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Aurora Innovation, Inc. and FedEx Corp. announced the expansion of their pilot program to autonomously move FedEx shipments on an additional commercial lane in Texas.

In March 2022, Aurora’s next-generation autonomous trucks – based on the new Peterbilt 579 – began to transport FedEx shipments between Aurora’s new terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso. Aurora is making the 600-mile trip on a weekly basis with safety drivers on board and expects to increase the frequency of trips in the coming months. Aurora continues to move shipments for FedEx between Aurora’s South Dallas terminal and its new Houston terminal on a daily basis.

Progress and momentum: FedEx and Aurora pilot snapshot

  • Since the commercial pilot began in September 2021, Aurora’s deliveries of FedEx shipments between Dallas and Houston have been 100% on time.
  • With each trip, the Aurora Driver (Aurora’s self-driving technology product) is providing thousands of FedEx customers with packages that were autonomously transported.
  • Aurora moves trailers for FedEx during various weather conditions and all hours of the day and night, optimizing fleet utilization.
  • Aurora completed daily hauls during the 2021 peak Holiday season, the busiest time of year for FedEx.
  • To date, the companies have completed 60,000 miles with zero safety incidents.

Aurora’s performance throughout this pilot demonstrates the value proposition autonomous trucking offers for transportation and logistics providers as Aurora works toward the commercial launch of its autonomous trucks. In light of the headwinds facing the logistics industry – ranging from increasing demand for the quick transportation of shipments to a challenging labor market – the Aurora Driver, when integrated into existing linehaul operations, has potential to provide a reliable, efficient linehaul solution to help address such industry concerns.

“Innovation is in our DNA – our culture drives us to think radically and differently, finding new ways to use technology to enhance safety, improve our operations, empower our team members and help our customers succeed,” said Rebecca Yeung, Corporate Vice President, Operations Science & Advanced Technology, FedEx Corporation. “Aurora has been a like-minded collaborator, helping us learn from and grow our autonomous trucking solutions. We look forward to our continued work together as we test further integration of autonomous technology into our operations to build a collaborative, robust network of solutions to respond to growing customer demand.”

“Some time ago, I was asked why the general public should care about autonomous trucking. This is why. In six months of working with FedEx, we’ve safely, reliably, and efficiently transported packages for tens of thousands of FedEx customers,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. “This lane expansion came ahead of schedule and we’re delighted to continue building the future of trucking with one of the country’s biggest and most important transportation companies.”

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Logistics & Supply Chain

DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail

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DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail. Image: DFDS
DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail. Image: DFDS
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DFDS & primeRail signed an agreement to become one company as DFDS acquires the German rail operator company. The acquisition strengthens DFDS’ rail offerings and is a testament to DFDS’ ambition to find sustainable ways to continue providing reliable and valuable services. The acquisition also marks the launch of a new Rail business area in DFDS.

primeRail operates continental and maritime transport logistics concepts in a combination of rail and road and was founded in 2019. In 2020, DFDS launched a new “Intermodal Transport Competence Center” in Cologne, in partnership with primeRail, to provide intermodal solutions for DFDS customers.

The acquisition is an important step to realizing our large ambitions within intermodality by combining ferry and rail transportation. Peder Gellert Pedersen, Executive Vice President and Head of Ferry Division at DFDS, says:

“For DFDS, this is an important strategic step. We have been looking for the right partners with the same value set and commercial orientation as DFDS. primerRail fulfills this, and it is, therefore, a perfect match. We connect our ports by rail to inland terminals. Thereby offering a smooth and environment-friendly transport network to the benefit of our customers and society.”

New DFDS Business Unit Rail

primeRail will operate as a new business area Rail in DFDS covering primeRail and the existing DFDS intermodal business. The Rail business area is organised within the Mediterranean business unit and headed by Patrick Zilles, currently CEO of primeRail. As Vice President and Head of Rail, Patrick Zilles reports to Head of Mediterranean, Lars Hoffmann, who says:

“Since we acquired our Turkish route network in mid-2018, we have learned how much value train solutions can add to our business model and network. We extend our network, and with the increasing focus on green solutions, it’s a natural step to develop our train set-up further. We have since 2018 doubled our number of weekly trains; it is, therefore, natural to take the next step. We see an increasing demand for rail transport combined with our ferry routes and logistics services. Partnering with primeRail allows us to offer additional intermodal solutions. Customers can drop off units at our terminals in Turkey and pick them up in Europe very close to the end destinations.”

Founder and CEO of primeRail Patrick Zilles stated: “I am proud that after successful cooperation with DFDS, primeRail will now become an important part of one of the leading ferry networks in Europe. primeRail will be integrated into DFDS, maximising mobility with cost-effective and innovative intermodal transport solutions.”

The complete integration of primeRail into DFDS is expected to be completed within the year.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes

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G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes. Image: Pexels
G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes. Image: Pexels
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Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announced that Minnesota-based G&S Logistics is digitizing its freight brokerage operations to support aggressive growth plans with the integrated deployment of the cloud-based Descartes Aljex transportation management system and Descartes MacroPoint for real-time freight visibility and load tracking.

“With aggressive growth targets, we knew automation would be required as we open and staff additional offices and onboard new carriers,” said Angelo Byrd, COO/EVP at G&S Logistics. “The online and real-time Descartes Aljex dashboards will be especially valuable as they give us direct insights into operational nuances and carrier performance to help us continually evaluate the best transportation options for our customers.”

Descartes Aljex, a cloud-based solution for freight brokers, provides end-to-end capabilities that enable companies to deliver better customer service, enhance operational performance and maximize margin. The Descartes Aljex TMS automates and streamlines daily freight broker activities to boost operational efficiency, including order entry, lane rate comparison, covering loads, rate confirmation, carrier acceptance, dispatching and carrier communications. It allows brokerages of all sizes to securely access freight and transportation management data from anywhere.

The integration of Descartes Aljex with Descartes MacroPoint provides access to real-time load tracking capabilities, which not only reduces time-consuming communication like check calls and emails, but also helps brokers forecast future needs to mitigate any potential transportation risk or disruption.

“We’re pleased to help G&S Logistics modernize its brokerage operations to scale for future growth,” said Dan Cicerchi, General Manager, Transportation Management at Descartes. “As the transportation industry continues to grapple with numerous challenges, such as capacity constraints, resource shortages and supply chain disruptions, Descartes’ solutions allow freight brokers to operate at higher levels of efficiency, communicate more collaboratively with customers, and connect more easily with carrier partners.

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