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Record year of tech investment in trucking continues with $55M funding round for TuSimple

This year has marked the year of technology in the trucking industry. All the way down the supply chain, the industry has been hit with investment that will provide substantial efficiency savings and productivity gains.

Tesla’s all-electric 500-mile range Semi truck, was a highlight, with high profile orders by industry heavyweights including DHL, Walmart, and JB Hunt. Morgan Stanley analysts claim it’s a game changer not just for Tesla but for the industry itself. And went on to say, “It is going to be the industry’s first Class 8 truck with 500 miles of range; it is going to be the industry’s first level 4 autonomous truck, and it is going to be the industry’s first truck that is nearly 50% cheaper to operate in a level 4 autonomous platoon.”

Also, profound innovations throughout the supply chain are changing the dynamics of the industry. E-marketplaces, blockchain, autonomy start-ups, and sharing economy models are just a few examples. A comprehensive breakdown of technological industry trends is available in PWCs 2017 Commercial Transportation Trends strategy report.

TuSimple and the autonomous era

TuSimple, a Chinese autonomous truck technology startup that is backed by Nvidia with offices in San Diego, has raised an additional $55 million in venture capital. The start-up, founded in 2015, aims to improve drivers’ working conditions to reduce truck accidents on highways by up to 75%. Its ecosystem also decreases fuel waste by as much as 7%, according to the company.

The funds will be used to hire production engineers in Tucson, AZ, where the company has established a test facility. The facility will assist in scaling up the testing of two full truck fleets in China and the U.S. In June, TuSimple completed a 200-mile so-called Level 4 test drive from San Diego to Yuma, AZ, using a Nvidia graphics-processing unit and cameras as primary sensors.

The company is developing and bringing together all of the technological pieces required for autonomous driving. A Level 4 system designation means the vehicle takes over all of the driving in certain conditions, according to the The Society of Automotive Engineers.

TuSimple’s funding comes into the fourth quarter of an impressive year of investments into truck tech startups. As of July, venture capitalists had poured $583 million into trucking startups, putting it on pace to top $1 billion this year, a significant leap from the $742 million raised the previous year, according to CB Insights.

“Human error and driver fatigue account for a large portion of truck accidents. TuSimple is proud that our research and development efforts can help bring innovation to the trucking market and make the roads safer for everyone,” said Mo Chen, CEO of TuSimple.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes the number of death on U.S. highways and the large percentage which are caused by human error. New guidance, A Vision for Safety 2.0, issued in September calls for industry, state and local governments, safety and mobility advocates and the public to lay the path for the deployment of automated vehicles and technologies.

TuSimple begins 2018 with truck fleet testing starting with two routes. One being a 120-mile highway stretch between Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona and another in Shanghai, China. The company’s ambitious plans hope to bring commercial autonomous trucking services by 2019.

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