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San Diego Autonomous Truck Company Launches 3 Million-Mile Test Run To Prove The Technology Safe

TuSimple launched a test drive of autonomous trucks from Tucson to Phoenix.

TuSimple, a San Diego-based Chinese computer vision and artificial intelligence startup focused on autonomous driving technology, is launching an autonomous truck fleet in partnership with Nvidia, inventor of the GPU, the brain used in computers, robots and self-driving cars that allows them to perceive and understand the world.

As part of the launch, the company is test driving fleets of vehicles. TuSimple has conducted a 200-mile test drive of the technology using Lincoln sedans between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona. On Monday, it launched a test of 18-wheeler trucks between Tucson and Phoenix. During the test period, the trucks will log 3 million miles to prove the safety of this technology.

TuSimple’s technology, which integrates the Nvidia GPU platform and other technology, relies on computer vision algorithms, millimeter radar and a 3D HD mapping technology platform to drive trucks autonomously. Nvidia has also invested in TuSimple's $20M round of funding led by Sina, the Chinese check giant behind Weibo.

TuSimple Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Xiaodi Hou told Bisnow his company expects to have a fleet of 20 to 50 autonomous trucks operating between Tucson and Phoenix by the end of the year.

“It takes a lot of energy to demo the technology and make it easy for our customers and the world to understand it,” he said.

His company hopes to have a fleet of 1,000 trucks available to freight carriers by 2020.

Hou believes commercial trucks will be the first autonomous vehicles to gain acceptance by the public, and passenger vehicles will follow.

“Nvidia is unrivaled in delivering the computing performance needed for autonomous vehicles,” he said. “By combining Nvidia technology with our expertise in computer vision and artificial intelligence, we're building a world-class platform that will disrupt the freight industry."

TuSimple technology has performed well in testing. It ranked No. 1 in KITTI and Cityscapes, a public leaderboard in autonomous driving. TuSimple swept KITTI's nine individual tests, ranking first in the world for all of them. This included KITTI object detection for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles.

Cityscapes Dataset is published by Mercedes-Benz and evaluates autonomous driving in an urban setting, involving different scenes, backgrounds and seasons. TuSimple's algorithm was successful under each set of criteria.

TuSimple's business model is comparable to Otto, a U.S. autonomous truck company that provides trucking companies with an autonomous driving system for highways and primarily collaborates with auto transportation operators, customizing camera and LiDAR-based low-cost autonomous driving algorithms and solutions.