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September 17, 2019 2:15 PM, EDT

TuSimple to Use New Funds for System Development, Route Expansion

TuSimple truck TuSimple, a provider of autonomous driving technology for heavy-duty trucks, has locked down three new Series D investors in addition to previously announced participant UPS. (TuSimple)

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Startup autonomous truck company TuSimple announced commitments from investors for an additional $120 million. These funds are part of an extended Series D round that was oversubscribed and reached a total of $215 million.

The round includes previously announced investor UPS Inc. — described in August as making a “minority” investment. New participants in the Series D round include CDH Investments, a Chinese venture capitalist; Lavender Hill Capital, an investment firm; and automotive Tier 1 supplier Mando Corp., a South Korean company.

The new investment brings TuSimple’s total funding to $298 million. The new funds will be used to continue system development, expand routes and deliver on the company’s goal to create the safest and most efficient autonomous trucks on the road. The company was founded in 2015.

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“TuSimple’s technology is at a pivotal point for maturity, and it has huge market potential, which is why we wanted to deepen our relationship with TuSimple and become a strategic investor,” Mando Chief Financial Officer Jae Chung said in a release.

Mando specializes in the chassis system, including brakes, suspension and steering. It is a global company with offices located in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the United States and Vietnam.

TuSimple is moving quickly to bring commercial self-driving trucks to market, according to the San Diego-based company. UPS and TuSimple conduct daily testing between Phoenix and Tucson. Working side by side with a global logistics giant is critical for TuSimple to further develop and scale its technology. The real-world experience gives TuSimple strict customer requirements to ensure its solution meets UPS’ best-in-class customer service expectation.

UPS Inc. ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

United States Postal Service truck

TuSimple is running a pilot with the U.S. Postal Service that includes a night vision-capable camera. The test route runs between Dallas and Phoenix. (Larry Smith/Trans Pixs)

In addition, using a new night vision-capable camera led to a pilot with the U.S. Postal Service, running round trip between Dallas and Phoenix.

“It was a great route — difficult, complicated, across three states,” Robert Brown, TuSimple director of government affairs, told TT. “The fact that they are interested in and supportive of this type of technology is huge. There is a lot of skepticism and misunderstanding about this technology. We are hopeful we can work with them in the future.”

The additional investments in TuSimple come as several startups working to commercialize highly automated heavy-duty trucks competed for more capital and engineers, and each pushed deeper into systems development.