'Shooting for big game': Softbank's push for transport dominance

Japan Times >> News

SoftBank Group Corp. leader Masayoshi Son has much bigger ambitions for transportation than simply seeing his investment in Uber Technologies Inc. turn into more than $13 billion when the company goes public next month. The Japanese entrepreneur is placing a $60 billion bet in more than 40 companies in a bid to steer the $3 trillion global automotive industry now dominated by vehicles people own and drive to a spectrum of transportation services available at the touch of a smartphone app. Those services range from ride-hailing and car-sharing to delivery robots and self-driving vehicles. The extent of those investments, based on a Reuters analysis of publicly available data and interviews with a dozen sources familiar with SoftBank's investment strategy, has not previously been reported. They show how Son has emerged as one of the power players trying to influence how people and goods move about the world in the coming decades.


October 2017 fundings, acquisitions and IPOs

Robohub

Mapbox, a Washington, DC and San Francisco provider of nav systems for car companies and others involved in autonomous vehicles, raised $164 million in a Series C round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, with participation from existing investors including Foundry Group, DFJ Growth, DBL Partners, and Thrive Capital. "Location data is central and mission critical to the development of the world's most exciting technologies," said Rajeev Misra, who helps oversee SoftBank's Vision Fund. Element AI, a Canadian startup providing learning platform solutions for self-driving and advanced manufacturing, raised $135 CAD million (around $105 million) in a Series A round (in June) led by Data Collective, a SV-based venture capital firm, and included participation by Fidelity Investments Canada, National Bank of Canada, Intel Capital, and Real Ventures. Ninebot, the Chinese consumer products company that bought out Segway and raised $80 million in 2015, raised another $100 million in a Series C round from the SDIC Fund Management Co. and the China Mobile Fund. Horizon Robotics, another Chinese startup, raised $100 million in a Series A round led by Intel Capital with participation by Wu Capital, Morningside Venture Capital, Linear Venture, Hillhouse Capital and Harvest Investments.


Google's Waymo adds 62,000 vehicles for autonomous taxi service

The Japan Times

LOS ANGELES – Google-owned Waymo is adding as many as 62,000 Fiat Chrysler minivans to its autonomous fleet in an expanded collaboration announced by the companies on Thursday. Delivery of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans was expected to begin later this year, with the automaker also exploring the potential to build Waymo technology into a self-driving car it might add to its model line-up for consumers. "FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic," chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said in a release. "Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront." Waymo plans to launch the "world's first self-driving transportation service" this year, with people able to summon rides from driver-less vehicles using a smartphone application.


Alternative To Lidar? Startup Light Raises $121M From SoftBank, Leica To Expand To Self-Driving Cars

Forbes Technology

Light cofounder and CEO Dave Grannan raised $121 million for his imaging platform on the promise of its value to robotics, drones, and, especially, self-driving vehicles.Courtesy of Light In February, Dave Grannan, cofounder and CEO of imaging startup Light, flew to Tokyo to meet SoftBank's Masayoshi Son for the first time since beginning conversations with the Japanese billionaire's venture-capital arm. After two more meetings, in Tokyo and Silicon Valley, Son agreed to lead a massive $121 million investment in Light, through his SoftBank Vision Fund. Leica Camera also joined the deal. A big reason that Light was able to attract so much funding is the promise of robots, drones and, especially, self-driving cars. Light uses complex algorithms to combine images from multiple camera modules into a single, high-quality image with depth.


Waymo adds 62,000 vehicles for autonomous taxi service

Daily Mail

Google-owned Waymo is adding as many as 62,000 Fiat Chrysler minivans to its autonomous fleet in an expanded collaboration announced by the companies on Thursday. Delivery of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans was expected to begin later this year, with the automaker also exploring the potential to build Waymo technology into a self-driving car it might add to its model line-up for consumers. 'FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,' chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said. John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, is seen in a 2017 photo with a customized Chrysler Pacifica that is being used in the Google-owned firm's autonomous car project'Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.' Waymo plans to launch the'world's first self-driving transportation service' this year, with people able to summon rides from driverless vehicles using a smartphone application.