Ford developing driverless trucks. Lyft acquisition controversy. Consumers baffled by connected cars.
Hit me with those laser beams
Fresh from shedding the money pit that was its China arm, last week Uber drove its stake into the driverless taxi battleground by snapping up Otto and partnering with Volvo to deploy autonomous taxis to the streets of Pittsburgh.
These moves follow Uber’s gutting of Carnegie Mellon’s robotics department and heavy investments into mapping. Its capital commitments come despite losses of at least $1.2B in the first half of 2016 (primarily from driver subsidies).
With the magnitude of the perceived stakes so large, CEO Travis Kalanick has repeatedly stressed the necessity for Uber to move beyond its comfort zone to own other valuable elements of the driverless taxi stack.
Likewise, automotive OEMs have lagged many tech companies in ride-hailing networks and self-driving disciplines. But they are desperate not to be left as margin-starved, commoditized manufacturers in the stack, and their urgency is reflected in the accelerating pace of their auto tech and ride-hailing deals.
On Monday, Quanergy raised a $90M Series C at a $1.59B post-money valuation. Quanergy is a (relative) veteran in the solid-state LiDAR game, promising to dramatically cut the costs of these pricey sensors.
Quanergy’s competitive set has grown, with Israeli startup Innoviz also seeing funding this month, joining others like LeddarTech and TriLumina. Current LiDAR powerhouse Velodyne, fresh off its own $150M investment from Ford and Baidu, is also quickly working to reduce cost and scale production of its units.