Autonomous Trucking Startup TuSimple Raises $95 Million in Latest Funding Round

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【Summary】Autonomous truck startup TuSimple announced it has raised another $95 million in Series D funding based on a pre-money valuation of $1 billion. The company will use the new capital investment to fund its commercial development of self-driving trucks and additional product development.

FutureCar Staff    Mar 23, 2019 7:42 PM PT
Autonomous Trucking Startup TuSimple Raises $95 Million in Latest Funding Round

While many companies are focused on self-driving cars, the first autonomous vehicles on the road just might be long-haul trucks. Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple announced it has raised $95 million in Series D funding based on a pre-money valuation of $1 billion. The company will use the new capital investment to fund its commercial ramp-up and product development.

The $95 million financing was completed in December 2018, however it was announced by TuSimple this week. The fresh funding brings TuSimple's total funding to date to $178 million.

TuSimple, which is based in San Diego and Beijing, is developing autonomous technology for the long-haul trucking industry. The company bills itself as a software company, with a foundation in computer vision, algorithms, mapping and AI.

The company is working with U.S. truck manufacturer Peterbilt, outfitting semi-trucks with cameras, lidar, and radar for autonomous driving. TuSimple was founded in 2015 with the goal of bringing level-4 autonomous driving technology to the trucking industry.

In March 2017, TuSimple announced partnership with Shanxi Automobile Group, a leading OEM in China. In July 2017, the company made China's first successful level 4 autonomous truck demonstration.

TuSimple developed a long range, camera-based perception system, which it says can see and identify objects over a half mile away—up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) ahead. TuSimple says that this level of performance is essential for autonomous commercial trucks to operate safely at highway speeds, as large trucks need more time to react in emergency road situations.

TuSimple's funding latest funding round was led by Sina Corp., a leading Chinese technology company that is most known for developing Weibo, one of the world's most popular social media platforms. Composite Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm also participated in this round.

"TuSimple consistently reaches their milestones on and ahead of schedule and we are confident that they are poised to bring the first commercial self-driving trucks to market," said Colin Xie, Vice General Manager, Investment Department, Sina Corp. "We are focused on finding the global leaders in artificial intelligence and TuSimple is ahead of the pack. The combination of technical excellence and an impressive leadership team has propelled the company into unicorn status."

TuSimple is already testing its self-driving technology with large shipping companies and fleets on daily deliveries in Arizona, with plans to expand testing to Texas soon. By working with fleets on commercial delivery, Tu Simple is earning revenue while at the same time validating and improving its Level 4 fully-autonomous system.

The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five deliveries per day. TuSimple plans to using the new funding to grow the fleet to over 50 trucks by June.

The investment will also be used to fund critical joint production partnerships with OEM and Tier 1 suppliers on the integration of autonomous software into semi trucks during production. In addition, TuSimple is working to integrate controllers for a truck's powertrain, braking and steering systems, an essential step for the commercial production of self-driving trucks.

"Autonomous driving is one of the most complex AI systems humans have ever built. After three years of intense focus to reach our technical goals, we have moved beyond research into the serious work of building a commercial solution," said Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, TuSimple. "We are thankful for the continued support of our investors and partners. This is not only a great sign of confidence in TuSimple, but also for the future of autonomous trucking."

TuSimple is aiming to transform the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety. The startup says its level 4 fully-autonomous semi-trucks are the only trucks capable of driving from depot-to-depot without any human intervention.

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