TuSimple and ZF to develop tech for mass-produced autonomous trucks

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple has announced a partnership with ZF, an automotive supplier, to develop and commercialize technology for autonomous trucks. 

The collaboration, which will begin in April 2020, covers North America, Europe and China.

Under the terms of the agreement, TuSimple and ZF will co-develop production-quality technologies including cameras, LiDAR, radar and steering.

Concurrently, ZF will support TuSimple’s pre-production driverless autonomous system, and will ultimately serve as the default supplier for its production-ready system for commercialized vehicles. 

The partnership, announced on March 26, ensures ZF develops and produces the right components for the TuSimple system at the right time, a TuSimple spokesperson told FreightWaves. This will allow TuSimple’s original equipment manufacturer partners to produce autonomous vehicles,

As part of the partnership, ZF will contribute engineering support to validate and integrate TuSimple’s autonomous system into the vehicle.

“A key success factor for virtual driver software is to ensure the system is based on an automotive grade level, including component development and production,” said Torsten Gollewski, ZF’s executive vice president of autonomous mobility systems.

Combining ZF automotive system competencies with TuSimple’s virtual driver software will create “the first commercial-ready automotive grade autonomous truck technology platform,” he said.

Founded in 2015, TuSimple is developing a fully autonomous driving solution for long-haul heavy-duty trucks. 

The company operates a fleet of more than 40 autonomous trucks, has 18 contracted customers and makes 20 autonomous trips between Arizona and Texas for companies like UPS every week. The company plans to start driverless operations in 2021.

After suspending vehicle testing in China in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, TuSimple trucks are now back in service in that country, according to the spokesperson.

ZF has 230 production locations in 40 countries. The companies are about to enter the development phase, so the production phase isn’t expected to be impacted by the outbreak, the spokesperson said.