Self-driving startup Drive.ai said on Tuesday it raised $50 million in a second round of funding as the Silicon Valley company prepared to deploy its technology in pilot vehicles later this year.
The company is one of a handful of startups building fully autonomous systems for cars, Reuters reported.
The latest round of funding — led by New Enterprise Associates, Inc., GGV Capital and existing investor China-based Northern Light Venture Capital — came as investor interest in autonomous vehicles continued to intensify.
Drive.ai is aiming to build an after-market software kit powered by artificial intelligence to turn traditional vehicles operated by businesses into self-driving models.
The company said existing business fleets would deploy its kits in pilot tests by year-end.
Drive.ai plans to distinguish itself through the team's expertise in robotics and deep learning, a subset of AI in which massive amounts of data are fed into systems until they can "think" for themselves.
The autonomous driving start-up is one of 34 with a permit to test on California’s roads, the Financial Times reports.
“A string of high-profile deals over the past year, including GM’s $1bn acquisition of Cruise, Uber’s $680m purchase of Otto and Ford’s planned $1bn investment in Argo, is attracting a growing number of entrepreneurs and investors towards self-driving cars, even though development and deployment of the technology remains at an early and relatively unproven stage,” the FT explained.
Sameep Tandon, Drive.ai’s chief executive and co-founder, said the new funds would help it to expand internationally after it began testing in California last August. “We see autonomous driving happening in hotspots all around the world,” Tandon told the FT.
Meanwhile, Drive.ai also said it had added to its board Andrew Ng, a prominent figure in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, Ng formerly led AI projects at Baidu and Alphabet's Google. Ng is the husband of Drive.ai's co-founder and president Carol Reiley, a roboticist.
Drive.ai, which received $12 million in an initial funding round last year, also named to its board the head of Asia for New Enterprise Associates, Carmen Chang.
(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).
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