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TuSimple to demo self-driving trucks in fourth quarter: source

·2-min read

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) - TuSimple Holdings Inc will demonstrate its self-driving truck technology using semi-trucks without human drivers in the fourth quarter of this year in Arizona as it continues to expand its U.S. test network, according to a source familiar with the tech startup's plans.

TuSimple debuted on Nasdaq on Thursday.

The company is developing self-driving big rigs Navistar International Corp, which is being bought out by Volkswagen AG's truck unit Traton SE, and is also working with chip company Nvidia Corp.

Both Navistar and Traton hold minority stakes in TuSimple.

Those trucks are due to go into production in 2024 and will be delivered to customers such as UPS, which also owns a stake in TuSimple.

Self-driving technology for freight trucks has attracted investor attention as it should be easier and cheaper to roll out than in self-driving cars and robotaxis, while providing a clearer path to profitability.

Self-driving freight services run on fixed routes between predefined points - mostly on major highways without intersections or pedestrians - requiring less mapping than shuttling customers between random points in robotaxis.

The source told Reuters that while all the sensors and software needed for self-driving will add around 30% to the sticker price of a truck jointly developed by TuSimple and Navistar, the vehicles should be profitable right away because of the lack of downtime needed for human drivers.

TuSimple declined to comment.

By 2023, TuSimple aims to have self-driving trucks running tests coast to coast, from the port of Long Beach in California to Jacksonville, Florida, and should be able to complete the journey in 36 hours, the source said. That is less than half the time it takes for a human driver to travel the same distance.

Daimler AG unit Torc Robotics is working with Amazon's cloud computing division to process vast amounts of data as it prepares to test self-driving test trucks in New Mexico and Virginia.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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