Nvidia invests in Chinese autonomous trucking startup TuSimple

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Nvidia has invested in TuSimple, the graphics card maker revealed today. It’s investing in a $20 million round led by Sina, the Chinese check giant behind Weibo, and it’s also providing TuSimple with Nvidia tech to power its self-driving platform, including NVIDIA GPUs, its Drive PX 2 autonomous computer, Jetson TX2 and more.

TuSimple has already run an SAE Level 4 (true self-driving) test ride between San Diego, California and Yuma, Arizona. That took place in June, spanning 200 miles and using camera data primarily to navigate the highway route. The startup has research and development facilities in both Beijing and San Diego, and more than 100 employees.

The tech used by TuSimple includes extensive HD mapping of the routes driven, as well as three millimeter-wave radar units, in addition to the camera data from eight cameras and the resulting computer vision processing it does. TuSimple says that it can achieve “centimeter-level” accuracy for truck positioning, even when driving inside a tunnel, and its in-house decision-making machine intelligence makes for safe route navigation.

The company’s also developing a car identification tool using its image recognition software. They note that once available, it’ll be able to identify car make and model with 97 percent accuracy from photos of vehicles uploaded to its site. This is an interesting additional use of its image processing chops, and could present additional revenue opportunities once its self-driving trucks are on roads capturing images of other vehicles on the road while en route.