U.S. Xpress will work too deploy Aurora autonomous technology in its Variant digital fleet.

U.S. Xpress will work too deploy Aurora autonomous technology in its Variant digital fleet.

Photo: U.S. Xpress (file)

U.S. Xpress plans to explore the deployment of the Aurora Driver autonomous-vehicle technology in its operations. The strategic collaboration between the Tennessee-based truckload giant and Aurora Innovations is designed to fine-tune Aurora’s autonomous Driver-as-a-Service product, Aurora Horizon, for efficient deployment at commercial scale.

The project will focus on Variant, U.S. Xpress’s digitally enabled fleet, to identify where autonomous technology can have the greatest impact. The companies will identify the routes where Aurora Driver-powered trucks should be deployed to alleviate bottlenecks, satisfy unmet demand, and make the biggest impact possible.

It’s just the latest in U.S. Xpress’ foray into self-driving trucks. Last year, the company announced a “significant financial investment” in TuSimple and said it was actively testing the technology on select shipping lanes.

Aurora and U.S. Xpress also will explore application programming interface (API) integrations into Variant’s platform to enhance dispatching and dynamic routing upon the launch of Aurora Horizon.

The two companies also say they are committed to exploring how autonomous technology can create a positive impact on the labor market by investing in programs that provide opportunities for new jobs.

“The future of trucking will involve innovative technology that Aurora is developing, which is why we’re collaborating now to assure we’re first to market with autonomous trucks,” said Eric Fuller, president and CEO of U.S. Xpress, in a news release. “Professional truck drivers will always have a place with our company, while autonomous trucks will supplement and help provide much-needed capacity to the supply chain.”

The Aurora Driver is a platform that brings together software, hardware, and data services to autonomously operate passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and heavy-duty trucks. Aurora is partnered with companies such as Toyota, Uber, Volvo, FedEx, and Paccar.

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