The race to develop autonomous vehicles continues to pick momentum and new participants.
Zoox, a start-up company based in Menlo Park, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has rounded up $50 million in latest round thanks to investor interest in self-driving vehicles. The success of Zoox fund raising has pushed its valuation to $1.55 billion.
The company elected to move ahead with raising additional cash after big investments in autonomous vehicle technology by Alphabet’s Google, General Motors and Uber Technologies, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Zoox is working on its own autonomous vehicles and succeeded in raising $200 million from investors last summer.
A Hong Kong hedge fund Composite Capital was one of the big investors, The Journal reported Monday, attributing news of the round of funding to anonymous people familiar with the matter.
The 2-year-old company, co-founded by Stanford engineer Jesse Levinson, has kept a relatively low profile. But the company’s website cryptically notes, “We’re developing fully autonomous vehicles and the supporting ecosystem required to bring this technology to market.”
(Comma One maker pulls semi-autonomous add-on device. For more, Click Here.)
Zoox was one of 19 companies with approval from the California DMV to test its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state.
But there are still plenty of roadblocks for self-driving car companies.
Last month, Comma.ai put the brakes on technology it was developing that would have given self-driving capabilities to certain regular cars. The startup received a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighting safety issues with the technology and threatening fines of $21,000 per day.
(Click Here for more on Uber’s autonomous test program.)
Meanwhile, automakers such as Daimler AG, Nissan and Ford Motor Co. have also made major investments in self-driving vehicles.
At Ford, the heavy investments in new technology actually had an impact on the company’s bottom line, while Daimler has not only invested in ride-sharing, but also spent heavily in the development of self-driving trucks.
The trickle-down benefits of self-driving technology are also finding their way into more and more consumer vehicles. Ford has been rolling out driver-assist features across more of its vehicles than any other manufacturer.
(Tesla CEO Musk warns that critics of autonomous vehicles are “killing people.” For the story, Click Here.)
The new generation of technologies like evasive steering assist, cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian detection and enhanced self-parking that should make driving a little less stressful and a lot safer for everyone.