Despite all the bumps in the road for autonomous vehicles (AVs) in 2021, the industry has a strong focus on electric vehicles. It is estimated that 2022 will see AVs make continued steady progress. Robotaxi trials and commercial services are expanding in the global cities, thereby making it evident that automakers are etching a shared vision of a future with AVs.
As per reports, the global autonomous car market is estimated to reach $64.88 billion by 2026. Gearing up to contribute to this growth, Tesla, Uber, Lyft, Waymo, and incumbent automakers are under competitive pressure to accelerate the advent of autonomous vehicle technology. Having said that, TFN has listed the exciting startups working on driverless cars and autonomous tech.
Founder/s: Jesse Levinson, Tim Kentley Klay
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: $1.2B
Robo-taxi developer Zoox has built dozens of custom-built electric robotaxis. It is testing these vehicles in “semi-private courses” in California. Recently, Zoox announced its plans to launch commercially with its purpose-built autonomous vehicle fitted with sensors. The electric autonomous vehicle has four-wheel steering and is capable of transporting four people at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.
In 2020, Amazon acquired Zoox in a deal worth over $1 billion. Also, the company is led by CEO Aicha Evans, former chief strategy officer at Intel.
Founder/s: Filip Lilja, Linnea Kornehed, Robert Falck
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $152M
Einride, the Swedish startup is well-known for its unusual-looking electric and autonomous pods designed to carry freight. The company claims that its electric trucks reduce emissions by 94% as compared to diesel trucks. Also, Einride has developed a digital platform for carriers that handles planning, scheduling and routing as well as invoices and billing.
Last year, Einride raised $110 million to help fund its expansion in Europe and into the United States. The funds came from new investors Temasek, Soros Fund Management LLC, Northzone and Maersk Growth alongside participation from existing investors EQT Ventures, Plum Alley, Norrsken VC, Ericsson and NordicNinja VC.
Founder/s: Daniel Kan, Kyle Vogt
Founded year: 2013
Total funding: $7.5B
Headquartered in San Francisco, Cruise is building the world’s most advanced self-driving vehicles to safely connect people with places, things, and experiences. Cruise autonomous vehicles are navigating some of the most challenging and unpredictable driving environments.
Acquired by General Motors, Cruise bagged $1.35 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund a few days back as it opens up driverless ride-hailing to the public.
Ati Motors (India)
Founder/s: Saad Naseer, Saurabh Chandra, Vinay V
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $3.5M
Ati Motors is an all-electric autonomous industrial vehicle maker. Its product, Sherpa Tug, is an autonomous, electric tug that can move trolley payloads upto 1 tonne. Trolleys play a key role in material movement in most factories and many warehouses. There’s another product called Sherpa Lite as well.
In 2021, the Bengaluru-based company raised $3.5 million to manufacture and deploy a large fleet of autonomous vehicles in factories and warehouses in both domestic and global markets. The round was led by Blume Ventures and Exfinity Venture Partners, among others.
Founder/s: Bogdan Djukic, Fabrizio Ugo Scelsi, Thomas von der Ohe
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: $106M
Vay is a Berlin-based deep technology company that is on track to launch the first driverless, safety-certified, commercial fleet on European public streets. The startup plans to offer a transportation service that lets users order a car to be delivered to their door, drive the car themselves to their destination and then just hop out and handover the hassle of parking to the remote operator.
In December 2021, Vay pocketed a $95 million in a Series B round from new investors Kinnevik, Coatue and Eurazeo alongside existing investors Atomico, La Famiglia and Creandum among others. The company intends to launch its first commercial service in Hamburg, Germany sometime this year.
JéGO Technologies (US)
Founder/s: Frederick Akpoghene
Founded year: 2021
Total funding: NA
Founded by a black entrepreneur, JéGO, designs and manufactures autonomous vehicles including self-driving pods that make it easy to connect consumers with services and products on the go. JéGO also has a mobile platform for users to discover businesses that provide high-demand services including Flu Testing, COVID testing, IV therapy, and more.
JéGO has partnered with a local manufacturer to produce Pods designed by Akpoghene. Its initial focus is to put the vehicles into the hands of healthcare providers within the next two years.
CEO: Gu Weihao
Founded year: 2015
Total funding: $157M
Haomo.AI is a Chinese autonomous driving startup controlled by Great Wall Motor’s Chairman Wei Jianjun. The company is driving into an increasingly competitive market where automakers, tech startups and investors are eyeing to grab a major market share.
The Beijing-based autonomous driving company attained unicorn status in December 2021 by raising nearly $157 million in a Series A funding round. The investment came from Hillhouse Capital’s early-stage investment unit GL Ventures, Meituan – a food delivery giant, and Qualcomm Ventures among others to upgrade its self-driving technology.
Founder/s: Mark Preston, Mike Potts
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: NA
Headquartered in Oxford, autonomous vehicle specialist StreetDrone is developing a fleet of 5G-connected autonomous trucks to help move parts and assemblies to Nissan’s Sunderland plant from local suppliers. Currently, the company is working on a project called 5G Connected and Autonomous Logistics (5G CAL) to assess how the technology can make industrial supply chain operations more efficient. StreetDrone’s autonomous vehicles could be deployed on the road by 2023.
Founder/s: Alex Kendall, Amar Shah
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $234M
Wayve from London develops a fully autonomous, data-driven driving system. It uses end-to-end deep learning to develop artificial intelligence capable of complex driving, which can scale across diverse urban environments. Wayve operates a fleet of electric vehicles fitted for autonomous operation and technology development.
In January 2022, the autonomous vehicle startup Wayve grabbed $200 million in a funding round backed by Microsoft and Virgin. The capital will be used to scale and deploy its autonomous vehicle technology that uses cameras to map out a vehicle’s environment.
Founder/s: Raquel Urtasun
Founded year: 2021
Total funding: $83.5M
Waabi is a new autonomous vehicle startup and carries the credits of being one of the few women-led AV startups in the world. Waabi’s approach is to focus on trucking with its proprietary software that will automate driving on commercial delivery routes. The company wants to commercialise its technology faster and cheaper than most of the AV startups working today.
Last year, the Toronto-based company picked up $83.5 million soon after coming from stealth. It is one of the largest Series A rounds ever raised by a Canadian startup. The round was led by Khosla Ventures alongside participation from Urtasun’s former employer, Uber, and Aurora and others.