TuSimple, a Chinese-American artificial intelligence company, is bringing 500 new jobs and 200 new autonomous semi trucks to Tucson.
These additions were announced alongside TuSimple’s news expanding its Tucson location, planning to double their warehouse size in 2019.
“I feel like I’m back in Tucson every few weeks for another major business announcement,” Gov. Ducey said. “This company is on a mission to make the world’s safest self-driving semi truck.”
TuSimple focuses on self-driving semi trucks, and is already testing their systems on Interstate-10 between Tucson and Phoenix. The autonomous trucks still have a driver and co-pilot engineer on board.
TuSimple’s original Tucson location on Grant Road was 6,000 square feet, their current space off of Old Vail Road is 50,000 square feet. While their original plan was for 200 new employees, they are far outreaching their initial goal. The new jobs are mainly in the engineering and management sector.
“This company could have chosen anywhere to invest,” Gov. Ducey said. “And they chose Tucson.”
TuSimple Vice President Chuck Price named numerous reasons why the company feels Arizona, and specifically Tucson, is the best location to develop self-driving cars, but highlighted regulatory laws as a key factor.
“Arizona has the most rational system for testing autonomous vehicles.” Price said. “The regulatory climate is correct. We’re also impressed with the talent in Tucson. We have a very strong partnership with the University of Arizona and with Pima Community College.”
TuSimple’s expanding location is to the southeast of Tucson, growing alongside the developing UA Tech Parks.
“Pima County has finally turned the corner of the Great Recession,” said Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez.
TuSimple’s Tucson expansion is estimated to create an economic impact of over $1 billion dollars in the next five years.
“Technology and transportations are part of the five ‘T’s of Tucson’s economy,” said Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “And TuSimple – there’s another T, by the way – is right at the crossroads of those two.”
TuSimple was founded in 2015 with the hopes of developing a “level four” autonomous truck. The independence of self-driving vehicles is measured from zero to five, with zero meaning a human is in complete control. Each level increases with artificial intelligence, level one means there is some driver assistance, such as cruise control or lane positioning. A level four autonomous vehicle is fully independent, and capable of completing an entire journey without a driver. However, a level four is still a bit restrained, such as only being able to operate in a certain geographic area.
This new fleet of semis coming to Tucson use camera-based computer vision technology along with radar and lidar to autonomously navigate. These perception systems allow the trucks to “see” over 1000 meters away at all times, giving plenty of time and distance to avoid obstacles.
“This is the kind of innovative, unique and groundbreaking company we’re glad to have in Arizona.” Gov. Ducey said.