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Goodyear Ventures Invests in Self-Driving Truck Startup TuSimple

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【Summary】​Goodyear Ventures, the venture capital arm of the tire manufacturer Goodyear, announced an investment in California self-driving truck startup TuSimple, adding the well-funded driverless truck developer to its growing portfolio of innovative companies.

FutureCar Staff    Feb 04, 2021 10:30 AM PT
Goodyear Ventures Invests in Self-Driving Truck Startup TuSimple

Goodyear Ventures, the venture capital arm of the tire manufacturer Goodyear, announced an investment in California self-driving truck startup TuSimple, adding the well-funded driverless truck developer to its growing portfolio of innovative companies.

Although Goodyear is best known as one of the world's leading tire manufacturers, its venture capital arm invests in seed-to-growth-stage startups in emerging mobility technology, such as autonomous driving and connected mobility.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

TuSimple was founded in 2015 with the goal of bringing level-4 autonomous driving technology to the trucking industry, which is poised for disruption with technology. The company is testing its driverless trucks in Arizona, Texas, China, Japan and Europe.

Last year, Goodyear announced a strategic partnership with Goodyear to provide tires and tire management solutions to TuSimple's Autonomous Freight Network (AFN), the world's first autonomous network. 

As an AFN partner, Goodyear will conduct wear studies to better predict maintenance, understand tire longevity and reduce the carbon impact of fleets.

"We are excited to build upon Goodyear's relationship with TuSimple through this investment," said Abhijit Ganguly, senior manager, Goodyear Ventures. "TuSimple's autonomous technology, combined with its vision of autonomous freight as a service, has the potential to create a lot of value in the commercial freight industry."

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A TuSimple self-drving truck.

As the auto industry undergoes a transformation to electric vehicles, Goodyear's core tire business will be relatively unaffected by the change, as all of the new electric vehicles coming to market, including trucks, will for the most part still ride on conventional tires.

Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 62,000 people and manufactures products in 46 facilities in 21 countries around the world. 

The company operates two innovation centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop innovative products for the auto industry. In March of last year, Goodyear unveiled its latest concept tire.

The company's latest tire concept is called the "ReCharge" and it can "regenerate" new tread as the tire wears from normal use. The tire uses replaceable liquid cartridges that help restore the biodegradable tread compound. The cartridge contains materials inspired by spider silk. 

As the tire surface wears, new tread material can be extruded to the surface. Once the contents of the cartridges are depleted, it can be replaced to make new tread to drive on. You can read more about it here.

Goodyear has also developed low rolling resistance tires specifically for electric vehicles that help extend range.

TuSimple is aiming to transform the $4.0 trillion global truck freight industry through the company's proprietary leading self-driving technology, including a long-range perception system that can "see" 1,000 meters ahead. 

The company's driverless trucks can increase utilization for fleet operators as they are not limited to operate 8-10 hours per day like human operators are. The self-driving trucks can also reduce fuel consumption, using 10% less fuel than conventional trucks on the road today.

In July 2020, TuSimple launched an autonomous freight delivery service with some of the world's leading shipping companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS), Penske, U.S. Xpress, and McLane. The company says its the world's first autonomous freight delivery service.

TuSimple says that its freight network should be operational nationwide by 2024 and begin operating some driverless trucks on routes by the end of the year.

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