The Daily Stack is a daily market insight newsletter by PrivCo, a private market intelligence platform. Read our previous insights.
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Autonomous vehicles or unmanned vehicles took a huge step this year. In a year where human interaction has made us more susceptible to viruses, the demand for driverless cars has never been more necessary (although most autonomous cars still have a safety driver). And just like vaccinations, we are seeing lots of talk about new developments and trials, bringing us closer to commercialization. For example:
Amazon shared their new robotaxi through its self-driving company Zoox.
Lyft announces driverless taxis are coming in 2023 to multiple cities. See our quick takes.
General Motor’s autonomous vehicle unit Cruise is testing in San Francisco. Read it.
China is one of the first countries to remove safety drivers from their robotaxis although there are no passengers yet.
Here’s our handpicked collection of private companies making an impact in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Aurora Innovation made headlines recently for acquiring Uber’s self-driving unit while also getting a $400MM investment from the company. As a part of the agreement, Uber will take a 26% stake in the company and Uber executive Dara Khosrowshahi will take a seat on the Aurora board of directors. The company has mentioned its first products will not be focused on people transportation but on logistics for long hauls as the technology can be better tracked and analyzed.
TuSimple also focuses on self-driving trucks and was founded in 2015 by Jianan Hao, Mo Chen, and Xiaodi Hou in San Diego, California. It raised a whopping $350MM round of funding led by VectorIQ and is also rumored to IPO soon. The company was actually one of the first autonomous truck startups and has already scaled its operations with an engineering center and truck depot in Tucson as well as a facility in Texas to support autonomous trips. It also has operations in China and Sina is one of its early investors.
Gatik is our third company of focus that targets autonomous trucks, focusing on the middle mile delivery between business to business. The company had quietly started driverless delivery last week and together with Walmart announced on Tuesday that it would remove the safety driver from its vehicle on a specific route next year.
May Mobility was founded in 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and offers autonomous shuttle vehicles for human transport. It launched a partnership with ride-sharing company Via to expand its shuttle operations next year. May Mobility is actively operating autonomous vehicle shuttles in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has provided more than 265,000 rides for passengers.
Nuro, founded in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu in Mountain View, California, is one of the most headlined autonomous vehicle manufacturers. This might be due to the fact that it is the first to be granted a driverless exemption from the federal government. Nuro develops consumer-like vehicles but focuses on transporting local goods and is currently partnering trials with companies like CVS Pharmacy and Domino’s Pizza.
Local Motors is founded in 2007 in Chandler, Arizona, and produces a 3D printed autonomous shuttle Olli. Its operations have mostly been organic until October this year when it received funding from Japanese asset management firm SPARX. The business model at Local Motors is unique because most of their designs are co-creations from the community brought to life by micro-factories and direct digital manufacturing. Ollie was created by a Colombia man who was challenged to design an urban public transportation system. The shuttle is deployed on multiple college campuses in the U.S. and Europe.
Lyft completes over 100,000 self-driving rides in Vegas
Lyft announces plans to bring fully driverless cars to multiple cities from 2023. Are you ready to sit in one?
Boston Dynamics shares its future
The robodog company Boston Dynamics transitioned owners again with Hyundai taking a majority stake this month. What does the CEO have to say following the acquisition?
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