Aeva Inc, a company founded by former Apple Inc. engineers to supply a key self-driving car sensor, said Tuesday it had reached a deal to supply the sensors for self-driving heavy duty trucks being developed by TuSimple.
Aeva makes a lidar unit that helps give vehicles a three-dimensional view of the road and is in the process of becoming a publicly trade company through a merger with InterPrivate Acquisition Corp.
It has announced deals with automotive suppliers ZF Friedrichshafen and Denso Corp. to supply sensors to automakers for passenger vehicles.
But the deal with TuSimple represents Aeva's first move into the world of self-driving trucks.
Based in San Diego, TuSimple has minority-stake backing from Volkswagen's commercial trucking unit Traton to develop self-driving trucks. United Parcel Service In.c also has a minority stake in the startup, which is developing self-driving trucks with Navistar International Corp. slated to start production in 2024.
Aeva has been testing its sensor with TuSimple since 2019. Aeva's lidar uses a technology that allows it to detect the velocity of distant objects, which in turn helps the vehicle more quickly determine whether that object is, for example, a pedestrian or a tree.
That capability is helpful in "providing additional safe stopping distance, which has always been a challenge for heavy-duty trucks," Aeva CEO Soroush Salehian told Reuters in an interview.