TuSimple, a U.S. autonomous trucking startup, has gone through fresh funding round and succeeded to raise $95 million.
The series D of funding round, to which led the Chinese internet giant Sina Corp and Hong Kong-based investment firm Composite Capital, values the three-year-old start-up at $1 billion.
The funds raised will help the trucking company to expand its testing of self-driving trucks on highways of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, which is currently testing its self-driving trucks on routes between Dallas and Phoenix, as well as commercial fleet of currently 12 trucks to 50 trucks by June.
Completed in December, the latest funding round brought the total finding of TuSimple to date to $178 million.
Nividia Corp, U.S. chipmaker giant, is also an investor to TuSimple, who invested in a previously held funding round.
Aiming to expand its operations to Texas, currently TuSimple is serving 12 of its customers with daily deliveries on highways and local streets in the U.S. state of Arizona.
The level-4 vehicles of the California-based company are completely autonomous and though not all, but can drive in most conditions.
From traditional carmakers to firms in the Silicon Valley are in a competition to bring fully commercial autonomous vehicles on to the roads and transportations experts are expecting the trucking industry among the earliest users of autonomous vehicles because conditions on highways as compared to busy city streets are relatively more predictable.
The fund raised will also help the firm to collaborate with truck manufacturers for joint production of autonomous trucks as the company, without naming its partners, said currently working with two truck makers.
In current tight-labor market, the biggest expense facing the trucking companies are the driver’s wages and that requirement of drivers could potentially be eliminated by introducing self-driving vehicles. Aiming on that, TuSimple is also working on development of a technology which will allow shipping companies to operate autonomous class-8 tractor-trailers without having a need of a driver.