An Nvidia VP reveals why the chip-maker invested in self-driving truck startup TuSimple

  • Nvidia invested in the autonomous-truck startup TuSimple in 2017.
  • Nvidia VP Jeff Herbst said the company was impressed by TuSimple's technology, strategy, and team.
  • Though TuSimple is competing with the likes of Waymo and Aurora Innovation, Herbst said the startup appears to have "escaped from the pack."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

TuSimple has caught the attention of the trucking and logistics industries with its plans to develop an automated-driving system for semi-trucks. Founded in 2015, the startup is carrying packages for UPS and has partnerships with Navistar, Penske, and US Xpress.

Though TuSimple has more competitors than it did five years ago, the company believes its head start on rivals like Waymo, Aurora Innovation, and Ike (when it comes to focusing on trucks, anyway) has allowed it to build a lead over them. Jeff Herbst, the vice president of business development at Nvidia, a TuSimple supplier and investor, agrees.

"They seem to have escaped the pack," he said.

In an interview with Business Insider, Herbst explained why Nvidia decided to invest in TuSimple and why he believes the startup has a bright future. Nvidia declined to disclose the size of its investment.

Here's what Herbst said.

Industry-leading technology

Herbst said TuSimple's technology appeared to be "incredibly good" when he first met with the company, and that hasn't changed, as Herbst believes TuSimple has better tech than any other company that's developing self-driving-semis.

He highlighted the startup's long-range perception system, which he said is particularly important for a semi-truck since it can't stop as quickly as a car. TuSimple found the right balance between cameras and lidar sensors, which bounce beams of light off nearby objects to measure how far away they are, Herbst said.

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