TuSimple claims to be the world’s largest and most advanced self-driving truck company. The company is currently working with some of the well-known companies like UPS, U.S. Xpress, Penske, and McLane. The company is backed up by Nvidia, Sina, UPS, and Mando Corporation. Investment banker Morgan Stanley is helping the company raise $250 million. Even though the company has declined to comment on this act, it is very clear that the startup is up to something. The company previously raised a sum of $55 million with the intention of scaling up testing of their fleet of trucks in China back in the late 2017s.
This startup has proved to be a very innovative company in the category of self-driving trucks. As we know that major investors in the autonomous vehicle industry are focused on passenger cars and self-driving trucks were way down in the list of automated vehicles. Self-driving trucks got the big break they were looking for, when Google launched Otto, that too, including many high profile engineers in the process which was later acquired by Uber. The first few public road testings were done in 2018 on the 120-mile long highway patch between Tucson and Phoenix and another segment in Shanghai.
After this, many other companies perused this specific field like Ike and Kodiak robotics. Waymo also started showing interest in self-driving trucks along with other companies and started noticeable active operations after April 2019. They hired many high profile engineers and CEO of a failed startup to work for them in the said department.
Another company to name that stepped in the game is Aurora, backed up by the very famous and successful, Amazon. Keeping these efforts in mind, TuSimple still stands out of all these and it has its own reasons.
The company has a very large workforce and very well-known partners like UPS. It has many quite productive and successful research and development centers and testing operations in China as well as in the United States. TuSimple’s research and development centers are located in Beijing and San Diego.
It has test centers in Shanghai and Tucson, Arizona. The research and development centers in China can be viewed as a benefit or a plus point, it can also be viewed as a potential risk at the same time due to the current tensions between China and the United States of America.
As the origin of the company as well as the founding team is from China, so it is most obvious that some of the earliest investments were also from China. Sina, a microblogging site operator for Weibo and one of the biggest of its own kind, is one of the earliest investors.
Another investor for TuSimple is a Hong Kong-based investment firm named Composite Capital. Over the past few years, the company has continuously been working to diversify its investors. Recently has gotten North American investors. UPS, also a customer for TuSimple, took a minority stake in TuSimple in the previous year. The enterprise declared it has added about $120 million to a Series D funding round led by Sina. The round consisted of new members, such as Lavender Capital, CDH Investments, and Mando Corporation.
Currently, the company is said to be making 20 autonomous trips on a public road between Texas and Arizona per week. The fleet contains about 40 autonomous trucks and all of them, even if they are autonomous, have a human behind the wheel for safety purposes.