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Autonomous VehiclesBusinessNewsTrucking

TuSimple teams with Hillwood on Texas logistics hub

The 9,600-square-foot facility will house autonomous truck operations, service and administrative support

  • TuSimple has secured property for a logistics hub in an innovation zone located near the Fort Worth Alliance Airport.
  • The 9,600-square-foot facility represents a “significant investment” for the San Diego-based startup.
  • The project, to be developed by Hillwood, the development firm founded by Ross Perot Jr., will house autonomous truck operations, service and administrative support.

TuSimple has secured property for a logistics hub in an innovation zone located near the Fort Worth Alliance Airport as the self-driving trucking company makes good on its plan to build out a nationwide autonomous freight corridor.

Hillwood, the real estate company founded by Ross Perot Jr., will develop the space, which will allow TuSimple to expand autonomous trucking operations in Texas and support existing freight operations between Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. 

“TuSimple is building the world’s first autonomous freight network and an important part of our strategy is to secure suitable locations for our terminals, and the Mobility Innovation Zone is exactly what we were looking for,” said Lee White, vice president of strategy for TuSimple, in a statement.

Launched last year, the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in north Fort Worth is designed as a platform to test, scale and commercialize technologies and solutions tied to passenger and freight transportation.

TuSimple is the first autonomous trucking company to set up shop in the zone, joining other companies including Bell, BNSF and Deloitte.

Piecing together the network

As autonomous trucking companies move closer to commercialization, the infrastructure necessary to support a self-driving ecosystem is getting more attention — and investment.

This summer TuSimple announced it was building the autonomous freight network, a nationwide system consisting of autonomous trucks, digital mapped routes, trucking terminals and a proprietary autonomous operations monitoring system called TuSimple Connect. 

Key to that network is securing suitable locations for truck terminals, a TuSimple spokesperson told FreightWaves. 

The company, headquartered in San Diego, is not disclosing the cost of the innovation zone facility, but the 9,600-square-foot space constitutes a “significant investment,” according to the spokesperson.

This will be the first urban logistics center in Texas for TuSimple (the company has two other terminals in Tucson and Phoenix) and will house autonomous truck operations, service and administrative support. Also included are four maintenance bays and two drive-through service bays and general office space.

Hillwood and TuSimple will begin construction on the project in November, with an expected completion by March 2021, the companies said.

Real estate, professional service firms join autonomous trucking’s next wave

Perot, son of the former presidential candidate, is a real estate developer and businessman who is best known for his development of Alliance, Texas, an inland port near Dallas-Fort Worth. 

“TuSimple is the perfect partner for Hillwood in our efforts to accelerate innovative mobility technologies within the MIZ,” said Perot, now Hillwood’s chairman, in the statement. “TuSimple brings this technology to AllianceTexas today, ensuring the MIZ will be a global focal point in the commercialization of next-generation logistics solutions.” 

Deloitte’s “Future of Mobility” team serves companies working in and around mobility, and the firm “is excited to work with Hillwood and other MIZ collaborators in providing the right environment for deploying autonomous trucking to scale,” said Rasheq Zarif, the team leader, in the release.

Flurry of activity

The new hub comes amid a flurry of commercial activity in the autonomous trucking space. This summer Tu Simple announced a partnership with Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) to develop an autonomous tractor.

Earlier this month Plus.ai announced mass production of its Level 3 trucks would start in China in 2021 in partnership with FAW Jiefang, China’s largest truck manufacturer. 

And this week Daimler announced a partnership with Waymo to develop an autonomous Cascadia FreightLiner. 

Related stories:

TuSimple launches ‘5G network’ for autonomous trucking

Daimler, Waymo joining forces to build autonomous Freightliner Cascadia

Infrastructure is next big thing in AV investment

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Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.

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