The $1 billion autonomous trucking startup that's beating Waymo and Tesla in the race for driverless trucks has raised $95 million in funding

By CMP Management on May 02, 2019 at 03:52 PM in Industry News

An autonomous trucking company that's aiming to develop the first fully-driverless trucking fleet reached unicorn status today.

TuSimple raised $95 million in Series D funding and now has a valuation of $1 billion, the San Diego- and Beijing-based company announced today.

That additional funding will go towards TuSimple's growing fleet of autonomous trucks. It aims to have more than 50 trucks by June, making it the world's largest autonomous trucking company. Sina Corp., the Chinese parent company of Weibo, led the funding 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," Colin Xie, vice general manager of investments at Sina Corp., said in a statement.

Right now, TuSimple makes three to five revenue-generating trucking deliveries a day in Arizona. TuSimple will expand its commercial routes to Texas this year. Each TuSimple truck has a systems engineer and a driver in them at all times when they're running.

In a December interview with Business Insider, Chuck Price, chief product officer at TuSimple, explained what sets the company apart from Tesla Semi, Waymo, Starsky Robotics, Embark, and the other autonomous trucking companies that have flooded the market.

Most driverless truck models suggest that it would be better to bring trucks to huge distribution centers right outside of key highways. Human drivers would then take the loads to the final destinations at preexisting distribution centers and warehouses.

However, TuSimple is unique in that it bring loads from warehouse to warehouse, just as normal freight trucks do. That strategy is a bit more complicated as it requires local driving, which is less straightforward than highway driving.

"We are the only company that is operating multiple revenue-generating routes from depot to depot (warehouse to warehouse)," Price said. "Our solution integrates seamlessly into existing fleet operations."

As for TuSimple's bigger-name competitors like Tesla or Waymo, neither of which run commercial routes, Price said TuSimple simply has better technology than others. TuSimple's trucks have a vision range of up to 1,000 meters and a 360-degree camera.

"We believe we have the most advanced system on the market," Price said.