October 2017 fundings, acquisitions and IPOs


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.

Uber Recruits Some Rich Friends to Drive Its Autonomous Cars


When Uber publicly filed for an initial public offering last week, it cemented its reputation as a technology behemoth with more than a few liabilities. One particularly weighty albatross: its Autonomous Technology Group, which since 2015 has poured hundreds of millions into building self-driving car tech it has yet to commercialize. Make that at least $1 billion: According to the filing, Uber spent $457 million in 2018 on research and development for autonomous vehicles (and its other tech moonshots, like "flying taxis")--a figure up 19 percent from 2017. So it was good news for Uber--not to mention the potential shareholders circling its IPO--when it announced a major investment into its Autonomous Technology Group from a Japanese consortium on Thursday. The $1 billion infusion comes from Toyota, the automotive supplier Denso, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which is aggressively bankrolling ambitious transportation technology companies.

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.

Domino's teams up with Nuro for driverless pizza delivery in Houston


Nuro, the self-driving delivery startup, is teaming up with Domino's to launch a pilot for driverless pizza delivery in Houston, Texas, the companies announced Monday. Starting later this year, Domino's will use Nuro's driverless fleet of custom-built robot cars to deliver pizza to select Houston residents who place orders online. Nuro, which was founded by two ex-members of Google's pioneering self-driving team, has been using its fleet of R1 robot cars to deliver groceries to residents of Scottsdale, Arizona, and more recently, Houston. If the pilot with Domino's goes well, it's safe to assume Nuro will look to expand it to other markets as well. Nuro has been ramping up its activities in recent months since receiving a $1 billion investment from Japanese tech company SoftBank.

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

Forbes - Tech

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.