The Traton Group and TuSimple recently announced a global partnership to develop self-driving trucks. Traton is the parent company of MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus heavy-duty commercial truck brands.
The two companies have launched a development program to operate the first SAE level 4 autonomous hub-to-hub route between Södertälje to Jönköping in Sweden using Scania trucks. As part of the partnership, Traton has also taken a minority stake in TuSimple.
“Innovative future technologies that provide additional value to our customers represent a key part of our strategy,” said Matthias Gründler, CEO at Traton.
The first test vehicles underway are aiming for Level 4 automation. TuSimple has been testing its technology since 2015 with several million test miles on public roads.
“Our partnership with Traton Group accelerates the introduction of autonomous truck technology to new international markets, and we look forward to our global partnership,” said Cheng Lu, president of TuSimple.
The development of the SAE Level 4 autonomous systems will be used on Traton brand trucks, offering customers advantages for long-distance freight transportation, increased safety, and fuel and operational efficiencies, according to the companies.
Traton’s goal is to test driverless truck fleets on roads throughout Sweden, Germany, and other European countries, which could serve as a means of counteracting the increasing lack of drivers, while also increasing overall truck capacity utilization. It is conceivable, the companies said, that the first deployments could be conducted outside of the specially established areas, particularly for highly frequented hub-to-hub routes.
The company intends to play a leading position in this field. “We acquired a stake in the company to underscore our commitment to this technology,” Gründler told shareholders during the company’s annual meeting in Munich, Germany.
Traton also owns a stake in Navistar, which earlier this year announced it was taking a stake in TuSimple and plans to bring autonomous trucks to U.S. roads by 2024. San-Diego-based TuSimple was founded in 2016 and currently operates 40 self-driving trucks (with safety drivers on board) in revenue service on routes between Arizona and Texas.