By Kelly Yamanouchi

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — UPS announced its venture capital arm UPS Ventures is investing in autonomous driving company TuSimple and testing self-driving tractor trailers.

The tests of self-driving trucks started in May on a route between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona with a driver and engineer in the vehicle, according to UPS.

The company said it wants to better understand what would be required for autonomous trucking in its network, at a level where “the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention.”

TuSimple, founded in 2015, aims to bring the first self-driving truck to market with technology for shipping companies to operate self-driving tractor-trailers.

UPS noted that it contracts with third-party trucking companies to handle the influx of shipments during its peak holiday shipping season, and TuSimple believes it cut the costs of that contracted trucking by 30 percent.

“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,” said UPS chief strategy and transformation officer Scott Price in a written statement. “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,” he added.