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UPS makes minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple

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UPS' work with TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

ATLANTA — UPS Thursday said its venture capital arm UPS Ventures has made a minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple.

Together, both companies are testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network. This is an extension of the ongoing commercial relationship between UPS and TuSimple in which UPS has purchased transportation services from TuSimple, according to Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price.

The work with autonomous driving company TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network, Price said. L4 Autonomous means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention. Currently, however, laws regulating L4 Autonomous driving require a driver in the vehicle at all times to take over operation if needed.

Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time.

“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” Price said. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

Founded in 2015, TuSimple’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to market, to increase safety, decrease transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. TuSimple develops technology that will allow shipping companies to operate self-driving class 8 tractor-trailers – those that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.

UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies during its peak shipping season. TuSimple believes it could cut average purchased transportation costs by 30%.

“We are honored by UPS’s strategic investment and their vote of confidence in TuSimple, this proves their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation,” said TuSimple’s Founder, President & CTO, Xiaodi Hou. “TuSimple is confident that it can accelerate bringing the first self-driving truck to market to increase road safety.”

UPS’s tests with TuSimple are part of an advanced technology evaluation for vehicles in the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network. UPS is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service to ensure that UPS remains the shipper of choice.

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Volvo Trucks North America’s driver display activation allows remote programming

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Volvo trucks north america’s driver display activation allows remote programming
Volvo's driver display activation allows drivers to update parameters and software without an appointment and can be done at their leisure in less time than a typical break or fill up. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Volvo Trucks’ remote programming services allow drivers and decision-makers to update parameters and software that enhance the performance of a truck’s engine, transmission and aftertreatment. With the new driver display activation, when parameters or software updates are available, an icon will flash on the instrument cluster screen. At the next planned stop, the driver can activate the update via the truck’s instrument cluster and be back on the road again within minutes.

“With the introduction of Volvo Trucks’ new driver display activation, the process time for software and parameter updates has been improved by an average of 50 percent,” said Ash Makki, Volvo Trucks North America product marketing manager. “Now, from customer initiation to completion, an update can be done in less time than a driver typically takes for a break or fill up.”

This new service means that instead of scheduling an appointment to complete uploads, drivers can completely upgrade the software and parameters on their own, from anywhere, without the need for personal assistance from a Volvo Action Services team member.
However, agent assistance will still be available through Volvo Trucks’ Uptime Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“We still have agents who follow the success of each update,” Makki said. “We believe in having real people behind our technology 24/7.”

Software updates are critical to maximize vehicle performance and uptime.

“There’s a direct connection between keeping a truck updated with the latest software and reducing fault codes, in addition to the truck running more efficiently, improving the environmental footprint and reducing operational costs,” said Conal Deedy, Volvo Trucks North America director of commercial telematics solutions.

In addition to system updates, the new driver display activation allows drivers and fleets to change parameters on the truck to alter the vehicle’s performance. Parameters for various applications can be customized and packaged in kits that can set maximum road speed, cruise-speed limit, shift patterns, idle shutdown time, etc. This ensures the truck is optimally configured for the environment in which it is operating.

For instance, a driver or fleet owner with trucks that regularly travel into Ontario, Canada, might want to reconfigure speed settings when leaving the U.S. and reset those parameters when the truck crosses back over the border. And for fleets, all trucks can now be batch-updated at one time using the driver display activation without having to contact the Volvo Trucks’ Uptime Center for each truck in the fleet affected by the update.

The new driver display activation will use a factory-installed telematics gateway, leveraging existing Volvo Trucks technology. No extra hardware is required. Every new Volvo-powered truck will have driver display activation available free of charge for the first two years, bundled with Volvo Trucks’ Remote Diagnostics services.

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Greenlots, Volvo Trucks partner for installation of chargers for LIGHTS project

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Greenlots installed two fully operational 50kW DC fast chargers in Fontana, California, and has plans to install an additional 150kW DC fast charger in the next month. (Courtesy: Greenlots)

LOS ANGELES — Greenlots, a member of the Shell Group and a leader in electric vehicle (EV) charging and energy management solutions, has announced the installation of charging infrastructure for a fleet of electrified commercial trucks as part of its ongoing partnership with Volvo Trucks. The heavy-duty fleet charging stations are the first of four installations by Greenlots at warehouses across southern California.

“Heavy-duty fleets have unique charging characteristics and needs,” said Harmeet Singh, chief technology officer at Greenlots. “Greenlots’ SKY platform is built for scale and designed to deliver a charging solution that meets Volvo Trucks’ electric fleet’s unique requirements and is optimized for cost and power. The open standards-based charging approach built into Greenlots’ platform enables Volvo to future-proof its investments in the charging infrastructure.”

On Tuesday, February 11, Volvo hosted an invite-only innovation showcase at TEC Equipment Warehouse based in Fontana, California, to share information about its multi-year Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) project, which aims to transform the way goods are transported. This public-private statewide initiative, comprised of partners including Greenlots, puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

“We’re excited to be part of the development of a battery-electric transport eco-system along with our Volvo LIGHTS project partners,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “This project is unique in the sense of its scope, and that it takes into account the entire system, with the charging infrastructure provided by Greenlots being one of the key components to this transport solution.”

Greenlots installed two fully operational 50kW DC fast chargers at the Fontana site and has plans to install an additional 150kW DC fast charger in the next month. All of the charging equipment for the project is connected to Greenlots’ SKY EV Charging Network Software, which enables seamless management of Volvo’s fleet and charging stations while balancing grid demand. Greenlots’ range of software solutions safely and cost-effectively balances the power demands of electric fleet vehicles, warehouse facilities, and the electric grid. Its software provides fleet owners the lowest total cost of ownership by managing energy usage to prevent high utility bills, while also supplying grid operators with the tools needed to safely integrate EVs and renewables onto the grid. For more information, visit greenlots.com/about/newsroom.

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Transflo adds Surfsight video technology to its platform of freight solutions

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Transflo adds surfsight vehicle video technology to its platform of freight solutions
Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity. (Courtesy: Transflo)

TAMPA, Florida — Transflo, a mobile, telematics and business process automation provider to the transportation industry, has announced the AI-12 Dual Facing Dashcam solution as part of its Mobile+ ecosystem of digital and telematics solutions for truck fleets and drivers.

Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity.

Integrated with Transflo’s telematics platform, the cloud-connected Surfsight dashcam uses front-facing and cabin-facing cameras. The camera uses built-in artificial intelligence to detect hazards on the road, and infrared to recognize driver distractions in the vehicle. The driver is automatically alerted.

Surfsight streams from vehicles to secure cloud-based servers, providing fleet managers with continuous access to video. Managers can review video of groups or individual vehicles via a customized, secure, online dashboard using a web browser running on any type of device. Surfsight also provides access to on-demand video retrieval and review on the company’s cloud platform.

Surfsight dashcams cost just $200 and monthly subscriptions start at $25 per month as part of Transflo Bundle+, which extends the capabilities of the Transflo Mobile+ platform.

“Increasingly, video is an important tool for improving safety and operational visibility,” said Doug Schrier, vice president of product and innovation for Transflo. “The Transflo Bundle+ platform is the ideal way to incorporate vehicle video and telematics into your digital workflow.”

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