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Updated: 05/2019

TuSimple

China / Beijing , China / Website

06/2019 Series D
Unicorn
Automotive Logistics & Supply Chain Transportation Artificial Intelligence Computer Vision
  • Pitch

    AI-tech unicorn TuSimple aims to mass produce self-driving trucks for logistics operators by 2020.

  • Why

    • High transportation costs

      Freight transport costs accounted for 16% of China’s GDP in 2015.

    • Environmental pollution

      In the US, trucks emitted 23% of total carbon emissions from transport in 2017.

    • Shortage of truck drivers

      The shortage of truck drivers in the US is expected to reach 174,000 by 2026.

  • Market

    9.7m

    Total number of in-service heavy-duty trucks in China and the US by 2018, according to TuSimple.

  • Product

    Autonomous driving system is primarily designed for heavy-duty trucks. The system comprises an algorithm platform, a hardware platform and a software platform. The software platform covers a range of functions including sensing, locating, route planning, vehicle control and high-definition mapping.

  • Founders

  • Investors

  • Journey

    • 2015 - TuSimple was launched in Beijing; Hao Jianan joined as COO and Huang Zehua as Director of Engineering.

      • The Launch

        August, Beijing TuSimple Interconnection Technology Co Ltd was established in Beijing.

      • Key personnel

        The R&D team in Beijing was led by chief scientist Wang Naiyan and COO Hao Jianan.

        September, Hao Jianan was appointed COO of TuSimple. 

        • Hao Jianan graduated in Computer Science and Engineering in 2007 at Beihang University and completed a PhD in Computer Engineering in 2015 at Nanyang Technological University. 

        November, Huang Zehua joined as Director of Engineering. 

        • Huang graduated in Computer Science at Beihang University in 2012 and obtained a master's in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015.
        • He was promoted to VP of Engineering in December 2018.
    • 2016 - RMB 50m Series A funding; expansion to the US.

      • Expansion

        September, reached top in nine autonomous driving technical indicators at KITTI and in one for Cityscapes. 

        • The nine KITTI technical indicators covered object detection (three indicators), object tracking (two indicators) and road segmentation (four indicators).
        • KITTI Vision Benchmark Suite, launched in 2012 by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Toyota Technological Institute based in Chicago, is one of the world's biggest ML datasets to test computer vision algorithms in autonomous driving.
        • Cityscapes Dataset, launched by Mercedes-Benz in 2015, is well-known in the autonomous driving industry for assessing the performance of vision algorithms in semantic understanding of urban street scenes.

        December, TuSimple was re-registered as Beijing TuSimple Future Technology Co Ltd.

        • Strategic cooperation agreement with the seaside Caofeidian Industrial Zone in Tangshan, Hebei Province, about 250 km southeast of Beijing. Jointly build a self-driving truck test base, a commercial operation base of autonomous logistics and transport, and a demonstration area of automatic logistics.
        • TuSimple Inc was incorporated in San Diego, California.
        • R&D team in California was led by CTO Hou Xiaodi and senior scientist Huang Zehua.
      • Fundings

        January, secured RMB 50m in Series A funding from Wei Venture Capital.

      • Key personnel

        July, Wu Nan joined TuSimple as Autonomous R&D Director.

        • Wu holds a doctorate in Autonomous Driving from Waseda University. He had worked at Toyota for years, leading several autonomous driving projects there including the Level-4 self-driving systems for Toyota Prius models and COMS electric vehicles.  
        • Wu became Partner and VP of TuSimple in 2018.
    • 2017 - Road tests in the US and China; opened Tucson office in the US; launched L4 self-driving trucks; Series B and C funding.

      • Expansion

        June, obtained first road test license in California.

        • TuSimple became the 33rd self-driving company allowed public road tests in California.

        July, completed a 170-mile public road test from San Diego in California to Yuma, Arizona using its Level 4 system.

        August, opened a new office in Tucson, Arizona. 

        • TuSimple planned to build a road test base and a commercial operation base in Tucson.

        September, started testing its L4 autonomous truck on public roads in China.

        November, released China’s first AI-based L4 self-driving truck at the 2017 China International Industry Fair.

        • Organized a test ride event at a closed area inside the National IntelLigent Connected Vehicle (Shanghai) Pilot Zone in Jiading district. Roads in the closed area were used to simulate real urban environment.
        • Minister of Industry and Information Technology of China Miao Yu participated in the event. Media reporters were also among the attendees.
      • Fundings

        August, received US$20m Series B funding from Wei Venture Capital, ZP Capital and NVIDIA.

        • NVIDIA owned 3% shares of TuSimple after this funding round, its first investment in a Chinese startup.
        • According to CEO Chen Mo, the funding will be used primarily for R&D, equipment, road tests and technical personnel recruitment.

        November, received US$55m Series C funding led by Fuhe Capital, joined by Wei Venture Capital and ZP Capital.

      • Key personnel

        October, Chuck Price joined TuSimple as chief product officer (CPO).

        • Before joining TuSimple, Chuck Price had worked as VP of Engineering at Tradescape and Peloton from late 2013 to 2017. He was VP of Software Development at Oracle Corporation from 2007 to May 2009. 
    • 2018 - Released new truck model with Peterbilt; began commercial operations in US; Series D funding boosted valuation to unicorn-status.

      • Products and services

        January, released a truck model that was co-developed with Peterbilt at CES 2018. 

      • Expansion

        April, started test driving transport containers within a sea port area. 

        • Announced the sea port pilot test on media open day on April 3.
        • Introduced self-driving operation solution after months of truck-fleet testing at a deepwater container port in North China. Compatible with existing port machinery and administration systems to transfer containers within a sea port.

        June, finished road tests totaling 520,000 km, including 70m miles of simulation tests. 

        August, began first paid run of self-driving commercial operations on Interstate 10 highway in the US.

        October, secured first license for public road tests for driverless trucks in China.

        • Tests were conducted in the port area of Shanghai.
      • Fundings

        December, started raising Series D funding and secured US$95m from Wei Venture Capital.

        • TuSimple was valued at US$1.095 bn (unicorn-status) after this funding round.
        • The funding would be used for R&D and production cooperation with truck manufacturers, tier-one suppliers and sensor producers.
        • Total funding reached US$178m since the company's seed funding round.
    • 2019 - Released camera-sensor system for night driving; cooperation with US Postal Service; closed Series D funding round.

      • Products and services

        March, released a camera-sensor system for night driving.

        • The system was equipped with Sony’s CMOS image sensor to allow autonomous driving at night and other low-visibility situations. Mass production planned for 2Q in 2019.
        • TuSimple’s self-driving trucks for commercial operations planned for 3Q in 2019.
      • Expansion

        April, entered the first-batch list of AI application pilot in Shanghai. 

        • TuSimple to participate in the self-driving transport of goods through East Sea Bridge (Donghai Bridge) between Yangshan Port in Shengsi Islands and a freight railway station at Luchao Port in Shanghai. 

        May, cooperation with US Postal Service to offer self-driving truck service along a 1,177-mile (over 1,600 km) route between Phoenix in Arizona and Houston, Texas.

        • The self-driving trucks were capable of running 22 hours per day, with one TuSimple engineer and safety monitoring workers to monitor the self-driving performance of each vehicle to ensure road safety at all times.

        June, expanded truck fleet for commercial operations to 50. 

        • According to CPO Chuck Price, revenue from the paid runs is expected to reach US$1m per month in second half of the year.
      • Fundings

        June, closed Series D funding round led by Wei Venture Capital with participation from CDH Investments.

        • A total of US$200m was raised in the Series D round that started with US$95m in December 2018 from Wei Venture Capital.
    • TuSimple has 30 trucks for self-driving R&D and road tests in China and the US. Its Chinese R&D centers are based in Beijing and Caofeidian. The other two R&D centers are in San Diego and Tucson. The company has a staff total of 480 in China and the US. Its Level-4 truck fleet will reach 200 in the US and 500 globally by late 2019. 

      TuSimple has partnerships with truck makers Shaanxi Automobile Group and FAW Group in China. Its partners in the US include truck manufacturers Peterbilt and Navistar, powertrain specialist Cummins and technology firms Nvidia and Amazon Web Services. In May 2019, Tmtpost (Titanium Media) reported that Amazon is negotiating a deal with TuSimple.

    • TuSimple aims to fully commercialize its operations and roll out mass production of self-driving trucks by 2020. The company will continue to invest in R&D and run large-scale road tests and commercial pilot projects.

  • Business Model

    TuSimple provides self-driving technology and freight services to logistics companies, ports and other clients needing cargo transportation services. It partners with truck manufacturers to embed its self-driving system into the design of new truck models. TuSimple will buy the self-driving trucks for use in freight transportation.

    In China, the Beijing parent company provides autonomous driving technology for container transportation like drayage operations and cargo hauling at ports. The TuSimple self-driving system costs around RMB 400,000 and is expected to be as low as RMB 180,000 within two years. TuSimple also earns revenue by managing the robo-operations for B2B clients.

    The Chinese company's US operations is based in San Diego, with an engineering facility and truck depot in Arizona. TuSimple Inc focuses mainly on the design and production of autonomous trucks for the B2B long-haul trucking sectors in the US to tackle the shortage of truck drivers. The company is currently partnering with truck manufacturers like Peterbilt and collaborates with powertrain specialist Cummins and tech software companies like Nvidia.

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