TuSimple, a self-driving truck startup, said it will test its system without human safety operators on public roads towards the end of the year.TuSimple announced on the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday that it plans to launch its driver withdrawal pilot program, which will cancel driver operations on the 80-mile route between Phoenix and Tucson.
Cheng Lu, President and CEO of TuSimple, said on the conference call: “We expect to start the initial driver operation before the end of the year and complete the career pilot program in the next few months. As a reminder, the driver’s withdrawal from the pilot program will be included in the data. The multiple runs within a week are a major part of the ongoing technological development, and it will involve many aspects-including software, hardware, and marketing. The reason why the pilot project is so challenging for drivers to exit is because we To solve the known and unknown factors that may be encountered on public roads. This includes non-compliant motors, unplanned road construction and changing driving conditions, all of which must be continuously monitored and accounted for in real time.”
If TuSimple can start this plan before 2022, it will put the company in one of the leading positions in the competition. For example, Kodiak Robotics only started the driver appearance test on a closed track. Embark is currently not testing on public roads without human safety drivers, but it is planning to conduct a pilot in 2023, with the goal of achieving commercial driverless operations in 2024. Waymo Via is not currently being tested in the “passenger only” mode. Instead, there are two autonomous experts in the cab of the vehicle for testing. One of them sits in the driver’s seat and the other is a software technician. Although the Swedish freight company Einride, which has just started its business in the United States, has been unmanned in Europe for several years, in the United States it will only carry out operations without human drivers in the closed park of its partner GE Appliances.
TuSimple stated in its earnings report: “In the next few weeks, we expect to’freeze’ our technology development so that it can perform final test runs with safety drivers on open roads and no one in the vehicle. Test under conditions. This testing phase will provide information and verify our safety case. After we have fully completed the safety verification process, our team will be able to proceed to remove the driver from the vehicle and perform 80% on public roads. Miles of running.”
In other words, TuSimple believes that its technology is ready to be fully automated-at least on certain road sections, and it will also establish its safety case in the next few weeks. The company outlined two main areas-system safety and operational safety-to verify the driver’s safety case.
Lu pointed out that system security verifies that the autonomous operation of the car is safe by helping every aspect of the system to be reliable, fail-safe, adequate, and proven. Operational safety supports the preparation and verification of every aspect of the driver’s operation by creating safety processes and procedures. “Operational safety verifies that we have monitored and diverted every driving incident that we can monitor, evaluated the safety risk level of the incident, and assigned it to the engineering team for resolution.”
In addition to the pilot, TuSimple needs to face some challenges in the primary supply chain, namely how to pass the driver’s exit from the test and put more vehicles on the road. In the short term, Lu pointed out the problems of supply chain disruption and labor shortages. In the long run, TuSimple believes that the challenge of large-scale deployment of autonomous technologies is the maturity of the supply chain.
Lu said: “This is actually around the key first-level components, such as computing, autonomous domain controllers (ADC) or redundant drive, steering and braking. Therefore, there is a little bit of chicken in it. The phenomenon of raw chicken, because Tier 1 companies don’t want to commit to investment without an order. This is one of the risks we have identified, so we are taking measures to solve this problem… in the next few quarters , You will hear us announce more investments in the supply chain to ensure that we can meet the timetable we talked about.”
In the third quarter, TuSimple invested US$85 million in R&D, an increase of US$24 million year-on-year, or about three times, of which a large part was related to the hiring of technical talents and additional drivers. Increasing personnel and increasing the commercial utilization of its fleet and Autonomous Freight Network (AFN) partner fleet are the reasons why TuSimple attributed its third-quarter revenue of US$1.8 million to more than US$1.65 million.
The financial report shows-“The ability to recruit new drivers and purchase new trucks for our fleet is still the most important source of resistance to our revenue growth, but we have been able to navigate this environment and are expected to achieve a total of US$5 million to US$7 million. Annual income guidelines.”
TuSimple’s net loss per share was $0.54, higher than the expected $0.49. However, this startup’s revenue mileage increased by 2.5 times compared to the third quarter of last year, reaching approximately 945,000 miles, which is an increase from approximately 379,000 miles, but the quarter-to-quarter comparison is not so impressive. In the second quarter, TuSimple drove about 880,000 miles of revenue, which means only 7% growth.
During the earnings call, TuSimple also said that it is drawing a new freight channel with UPS, from Arizona, where the company has the most business, to Florida. The company plans to expand its AFN to the United States by 2024, and recently partnered with freight management company Ryder to help achieve this goal. Now, TuSimple is working with UPS Supply Chain Solutions to expand its AFN to the East Coast in advance, and then reach UPS North American Air Freight (NAAF) terminals in Orlando and Charlotte, where the company has been there with high-definition The route is drawn.
Since the beginning of the cooperation between TuSimple and UPS in 2019, the company has completed 160,000 miles of freight transportation for NAAF, and also stated that it has saved the company 13% of fuel at a speed of 55 to 68 miles per hour. In the third quarter, when the company expanded its AFN from Dallas to Charlotte, it mapped 1,400 new miles, which brought the total number of miles mapped to 9,900. TuSimple said that as the new surveying and mapping technology is improved into dynamic, low-latency updates, it expects that the quality of the map will continue to improve, the update time will be from a few weeks to a few days, and in the long run it will be shortened to a few minutes.