TuSimple Becomes First San Diego Company to Test Self-Driving Vehicles in California
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TuSimple Becomes First San Diego Company to Test Self-Driving Vehicles in California

TuSimple, a developer of artificial intelligence and computer vision technologies, said it is the first San Diego-based company to acquire a permit to test self-driving vehicles on California roads.

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TuSimple, a developer of artificial intelligence and computer vision technologies, said it is the first San Diego-based company to acquire a permit to test self-driving vehicles on California roads.

The startup, which also has an office in Beijing, joins the ranks of GM, Google, Tesla and Ford.

“TuSimple’s autonomous systems can now tackle real Southern California road conditions like potholes, traffic and random human driving behaviors – though always with a human driver watching out behind the wheel,” the company said in a news release.

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Though this is an important step forward on the road to fully autonomous driving, there’s still a lot of work to be done, co-founder Xiaodi Hou remarked.

“This permit doesn’t represent a technological innovation or milestone,” says Hou. “If we think about applying for the permit as if it were a kind of test, its requirements are relatively easy to fulfill. But real ability in autonomous driving is a different thing altogether.”

Real progress always happens behind the scenes, Hou said, adding that TuSimple will continue to quietly write the algorithms, do the research and test the equipment necessary to make autonomous driving a reality.

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Hou said he takes pride in being the first San Diego-based company on the list of permit winners in California.

“I never wanted to be in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area,” he asserted. “I like San Diego because it has a humility to it. People in San Diego aren’t talkers – they’re doers. They just work hard and don’t talk much about it. This is so different from the flashy opportunism of the Bay Area. And it’s what makes TuSimple special too. We don’t tout our popularity, or investment appeal, or ‘disruptive potential.’ We just sit down and do the work.”

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Now that TuSimple has an autonomous driving permit, the company plans to hit the ground running.

The firm has scheduled a 420-mile test run from San Diego to Tucson, Ariz., at the end of June, in which it plans to test a fully autonomous L4 system.

“We’re excited,” Hou said. “Careful, cautious … but excited.”

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