Autonomous vehicle company TuSimple announced that it completed an industry-first test pilot to resulting in faster service, fresher food, and less waste.
The company tested its trucks by hauling fresh watermelons along a 951-mile highway from Giumarra’s facility in Nogales, Arizona, and transported the produce across four states to AWG’s distribution center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where the fruit was inspected and distributed to Doc’s Country Mart and Homeland grocery stores across the state. The campaign was part of a pilot project with partners The Giumarra Companies, a leading international network of fresh produce growers, distributors, and marketers, and the Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler.
The run normally takes 24 hours and 6 minutes with human drivers and traditional trucks, but TuSimple’s automated driving systems made for a 42% faster run of 14 hours and six minutes, the company said. The pick-up and delivery of the produce commonly referred to as “first mile” and “last mile,” was done manually with a human driver, while the longest portion of the journey from Tucson, Arizona, to Dallas, Texas, also known as the “middle mile,” was done autonomously using TuSimple’s self-driving technology, which handled a more than 900-mile (1,450-km) leg of this journey.
“We believe the food industry is one of many that will greatly benefit from the use of TuSimple’s autonomous trucking technology,” said Jim Mullen, Chief Administrative Officer at TuSimple. “Given the fact that autonomous trucks can operate nearly continuously without taking a break means fresh produce can be moved from origin to destination faster, resulting in fresher food and less waste.“
While package delivery, large freight carriers, and commercial railroads are already leveraging TuSimple’s autonomous trucking solutions, one of the most promising applications is within the food industry.