TuSimple raised $95 Million in New Funding to support the expansion of its autonomous truck fleet.
TuSimple is part of a stable of startups seeking to automate parts of long-haul and parcel transport with self-driving technology that uses artificial intelligence, laser sensors and cameras to navigate roads. TuSimple, Embark, Starsky Robotics and truck-platooning business Peloton Technology Inc. have drawn strong interest from venture capital funds and have struck a variety of operating agreements with truck manufacturers and operators to test their technology.
TuSimple's technology is built around cameras that it claims provide better long-range predictive capabilities than lidar, the technology used in most self-driving passenger cars that offers a 3-D laser view of the environment.
The company's cameras can see about 1,000 meters, or 3,280 feet ahead, said Chuck Price, TuSimple's chief product officer. "From a half mile away we can spot emergency vehicles, cars broken down on the side of the road, people walking around," Mr. Price said.
The company has two delivery routes in Arizona that deploy its technology on retrofitted trucks, with backup drivers and engineers on board, that haul loads for a dozen customers that it declined to name. The average run is about 200 miles and is automated from end to end, including surface-street navigation, Mr. Price said, although the trucks need a human driver to back up to loading docks.
TuSimple is working with truck manufacturers Navistar International Corp. and Paccar Inc. and components suppliers such as engine-maker Cummins Inc. The company will use the new investment to fund joint development with those companies to integrate autonomous software with powertrain, braking and steering systems as it pushes to achieve commercial scale.
"We are confident that we will have our first commercial driverless operation in late 2020 to 2021," Mr. Price said.
Peloton Technology Inc
Of those companies, I am confident in Embark, TuSimple, Waymo, and Starsky Robotics.