TuSimple addresses autonomous truck crash during Q2 earnings call – TechCrunch

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple used its second-quarter earnings call to address an accident in April in which one of the company’s autonomous trucks suddenly swerved across the I-10 freeway in Tuscon and crashed into a concrete barricade.

The crash had first come to light via a YouTube video showing footage of the crash along with a May 26 letter from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) alerting TuSimple to a “safety compliance investigation.” The accident was later reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“An error occurred when a test driver and a safety engineer tried to switch back to autonomous driving mode before the system computer was prepared to do so, and the truck swerved and collided with the highway barrier,” said Xiaodi Hou, co-founder and CEO of TuSimple , during Tuesday’s earnings call. “No one was hurt. And the only evidence of the accident is a few scrapes and minor damage to our truck.”

Hou noted that TuSimple had accumulated 8.1 million miles of road testing with “exactly one incident” over the past seven years. When the incident happened on April 6, TuSimple grounded the entire fleet and launched an independent investigation, Hou said. After determining the cause of the failure, the company upgraded all of its systems with a human-machine interface overhaul to ensure the same problem never occurs again, the executive continued.

That internal report, reviewed by WSJ, revealed that the truck abruptly made a left turn due to a stale command that was 2.5 minutes old and should have been deleted from the system but was not deleted.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers told the WSJ that if common safeguards had been in place, they would have prevented the crash. For example, the truck should not respond to a command that is a few hundredths of a second old, let alone more than two minutes old. The system should also not be able to turn as sharply at 65 mph, nor should a safety driver be able to activate an improperly functioning self-propelled system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has since joined the FMCSA’s investigation into the TuSimple highway accident.

Hou said the two agencies are yet to find any anomalies in their investigation or give TuSimple safety recommendations, but the investigation is ongoing.

During the earnings call, TuSimple reiterated its plans to commercialize driver-out operations where no human security operator is present in the vehicle. The company first conducted a driver demonstration along an 80-mile course in Arizona in December and has since completed several additional runs.

TuSimple said the crash would not affect its plans to get started driver-out operations for the Union Pacific Railroad, but it’s unclear if the company is currently even on schedule to do so. Just do was scheduled to launch fully autonomous cargo transportation for Union Pacific this spring and scale to commercial viability by the end of 2023, but Hou said the company encountered a complete road closure ahead of the distribution center at its destination point. which delayed the run by “a few weeks”. He also reiterated that the company’s deadline for the Texas deployment is 2023, but did not specify whether it will be for initial test runs or fully commercial operations. TuSimple did not respond to requests for clarification in a timely manner.

TuSimple Q2 Financials

TuSimple’s total revenue for the second quarter was $2.6 million, up 73% year over year and 13% sequentially. Wall Street analysts were expecting TuSimple’s earnings reach $4.06 million; Additionally, they expected the company to beat those estimates.

The company attributed its growth as it was to increased use of existing assets and year-over-year pricing increases.

TuSimple’s net loss was $108.6 million compared to $116.5 million in the same quarter last year. The company appears to have reduced total operating expenses, which came in at $107.5 million this quarter versus $119.4 million a year ago. However, R&D spending rose 13% year over year to $85.5 million. According to TuSimple, most of the R&D spend was $60.8 million related to hiring, including a $22.4 million stock-based compensation expense. However, selling, general and administrative expenses were significantly lower than last year.

To prepare for driver operations and expand its autonomous freight network, TuSimple invested a total of $3.8 million in the purchase of property, plant and equipment. The company ended the quarter with $1.16 billion in cash.

Updated forecast for the full year

TuSimple’s updated 2022 revenue guidance remained unchanged at $9 million to $11 million. In general, the company intends to spend less this year and therefore lose less money. TuSimple’s adjusted EBITDA loss for the year is now expected to be in the range of $360 million to $380 million, up from the previous guidance of $400 million to $420 million.

Additionally, TuSimple will spend less on stock-based compensation — driven by a slowdown in hiring — and on real estate and equipment purchases. The company hopes to end the year with $950 million in cash, up from a previous guidance of $900 million.

leadership change

Hou detailed some key leadership changes announced in June, including chief financial officer Patrick Dillon leaving the company and being temporarily replaced by Eric Tapia, TuSimple’s global controller and chief accounting officer.

In addition, Dr. Ersin Yumer, previously head of TuSimple’s autonomous freight network, as EVP of Operations and Dr. Lei Wang promoted to EVP of Technology. Both were promoted to support TuSimple’s driver-out operations.


It’s worth noting that TuSimple wouldn’t answer a question about the company’s preliminary plans to sell its China operations, which was raised during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

At that time, TuSimple told TechCrunch that the company’s stock price today does not reflect the value of the autonomous freight business in China, so it would be a good idea to spin off the APAC business. A review of the company’s 10-Q revealed that TuSimple is more likely to seek to sell its China operations because it is too expensive to keep going, given the National Security Agreement the company is subject to under a review by the Committee on China Foreign investment has approved United States.

Tapia, TuSimple’s interim CFO, also shared that the company is in the process of upgrading most of its older trucks to the latest AV hardware technology, a process that will continue through 2023 and will include adding improved sensors to the vehicles.

“While we plan to add some new trucks to the fleet, it’s difficult to add a significant number of trucks given the challenges of buying new or even lightly used trucks,” Tapia said. “Last but not least, we plan to continue investing in the expansion of the terminals [autonomous freight network], mainly around the Texas Delta. Our intention is to do this in a capital-light manner, working with partners where possible.”

2020, TuSimple has partnered with Navistar to build fully autonomous trucks and set a deadline beforehand Start of production by 2024 and deliver to specific customers, like DHLto 2025. Hou and Tapia dodged repeated attempts by an analyst to get clarity on that timeline. TuSimple addresses autonomous truck crash during Q2 earnings call – TechCrunch

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