Autonomous Trucking Startup Hits $1B Valuation

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The future of self-driving trucks looks bright, or at least it does for one startup that specializes in them.

TuSimple, the largest in the very young autonomous trucking industry, has announced it has reached $1 billion in valuation, or in other words, its a unicorn, a first for the autonomous trucking business.

It reached this level by receiving $95 million in Series D funding, based on that pre-money $1 billion valuation. Sina Corporation and Composite Capital provided the funds.

With this cash on hand, TuSimple will keep expanding its fleet of autonomous trucks, which makes daily deliveries in Arizona (and soon Texas) for large shipping firms. According to TuSimple, it has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips a day.

It would like to acquire over 50 trucks by this June.

“Autonomous driving is one of the most complex AI systems humans have ever built. After three years of intense focus to reach our technical goals, we have moved beyond research into the serious work of building a commercial solution,” said TuSimple’s founder, president and CTO, Dr. Xiaodi Hou, in a statement. “We are thankful for the continued support of our investors and partners. This is not only a great sign of confidence in TuSimple, but also for the future of autonomous trucking.”

“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 the market,” adds Colin Xie, vice general manager at Sina Corporation’s Investment Department. “We are focused on finding the global leaders in artificial intelligence and TuSimple is ahead of the pack. The combination of technical excellence and an impressive leadership team has propelled the company into unicorn status.

In addition to obtaining new self-driving units TuSimple also plans to finance joint production programs with its present OEM, Tier 1 and sensor partners to gain full commercialization.

Image credit: TuSimple/PR Newswire