Silicon Valley-based Voyage Raises $31 Million in Latest Funding Round

The latest funding round was led by Franklin Templeton, with significant participation from Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land-Rover’s InMotion Ventures, …
Silicon Valley-based Voyage Raises $31 Million in Latest Funding Round

author: Eric Walz

Autonomous driving startup Voyage has announced a $31 million Series B funding round. The latest funding round was led by Franklin Templeton, with significant participation from Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land-Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and Chevron Technology Ventures. The new funding bring to total amount raised by Voyage to $52 million.

Voyage spun out of online learing platform Udacity in 2017 and its co-founder is Oliver Cameron, who serves as the company’s CEO. Cameron led the development of Udacity’s self-driving car course and worked closely with Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google self-driving car program.

We’re excited to continue working with Oliver Cameron and his world-class team at Voyage. They’ve shown us that they have the capability to quickly make self-driving, autonomous taxis in residential communities a reality, sooner than anyone would have thought.” said Sebastian Peck, Managing Director of Jaguar Land-Rover’s InMotion Ventures in a statement.

While most of the industry to focused on deploying self-driving cars in urban settings, Palo Alto-based Voyage is targeting retirement communities with its on-demand ride-hailing service using a fleet of autonomous vehicles.

Voyage is currently testing and refining its technology in central Florida at The Villages, the nation’s largest 55 and over retirement community. According to U.S. Census data released in March 2018, The Villages was the 10th in the annual list of fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States with over 125,000 residents.

Voyage is also operating at The Villages in San Jose, California, offering its on-demand transportation service to 4,000 residents. The San Jose community is Voyage’s first commercial partner.

Operating in private communities like The Villages allows Voyage to collect valuable driving data and improve and refine its autonomous driving technology in a much safer and more controlled environment than a busy city street.

At the same time, Voyage is also providing a valuable service to older residents of the communities, many of whom cannot not drive due to physical limitations. Village residents can summon a ride within the community with an easy to use iPhone app.

The Villages is also a gated community, with limited traffic and other obstacles a self-driving car must learn to deal with if operating in an urban setting. Many residents get around using only golf carts. Speed limit within the community is 25 mph, making it a safer place for Voyage perfect its self-driving vehicles before rolling them out at scale.

Voyage’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which are the same model Waymo uses, are outfitted with a suite of senors, including cameras, lidar and radar to operate autonomously. Right now there is safety driver behind the wheel to monitor the vehicle. The driver assists passengers with getting into and out of the vehicle, if needed.

Cameron wrote in a blog post that over the past two years Voyage’s engineering team has made significant improvements in its autonomous vehicle software, including transitioning to a safety-critical and certifiable middleware. The company says its new prediction engine has over an 10x performance increase to detect objects such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Voyage also said it creating triple redundancy in its perception system for fail-safe operation. The perception system serves as the “eyes” of the vehicles and refining it for the highest degree of safety is top priority for the team at Voyage.

The company’s prediction engine uses a combination of advanced probability models, high-definition maps, and time-based behavior models to predict what’s happening around its vehicles.

Voyage said it will use the new funds to ready its self-driving technology for commercialization, grow its team of self-driving experts and expand its fleet of self-driving vehicles in California and Florida. Voyage plans an eventual expansion outside of these of gated communities into more complex environments.

Voyage is one of the most promising new startups coming out of Silicon Valley. Last year, Cameron was recognized by Forbes in its annual 30 Under 30 list, chronicling the most innovative entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada. The company has also made some high-profile hires as it grows.

In June 2018, Voyage announced it hired engineer Drew Gray as its new CTO and Director of Autonomy. Gray worked as engineering director at Uber ATG, as well as stints at Otto, Cruise and Tesla. The company also brought onboard Davide Bacchet from Tesla where he worked on the company’s Autopilot. Bacchet also worked on autonomous driving at EV startup NIO.

Voyage said it increased its total headcount by 300% since its first Series A in Jan 2018.

In a blog post on Medium, Cameron wrote “Our mission is to deliver on the promise of self-driving cars, and we are thrilled to be working with forward-thinking investors who deeply believe in that mission. Together with these new resources, we will deliver an autonomous ride-hailing service to customers who truly need it.”

PrevNext

Robotaxis: Voyage versus Ford, Waymo, and Tesla

Franklin Templeton led the round, followed by Khosla Ventures, InMotion Ventures (Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital fund), and Chevron …

Autonomous ride-sharing startup Voyage has raised about $31 million in the Series B round, according to its press release. Franklin Templeton led the round, followed by Khosla Ventures, InMotion Ventures (Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital fund), and Chevron Technology Ventures, Chevron’s (CVX) venture capital arm. This round brings Voyage’s total funding to $52 million to date. The company plans to use the funds to expand its fleet size and team.

Voyage’s robotaxi foray

Voyage, which started its journey in 2017, aims at providing a robotaxi service to commuters. Currently, it’s operating in retirement zones in California and Florida. It has a multiyear exclusive license to operate self-driving ride-sharing vehicles in The Villages in Florida. The Villages is the largest retirement community in the world. It’s spread over 32 square miles and is home to about 78 villages housing around 100–1,550 homes.

These kinds of retirement communities suit the Voyage robotaxi service. The company’s autonomous vehicles operate within a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, which resonates with the calmer pace of the retirement world.

Voyage has come a long way from its first-generation (or G1) autonomous vehicles, which it called Homer. Voyage’s G1 robotaxis was based on Ford Fusion and required a test driver. However, the advanced technology used in G2 has taken Voyage a step forward, and it’s now launching a completely driverless vehicle.

The company’s current fleet, known as G2, is based on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. The vehicle uses LiDAR technology to understand complex traffic conditions. G2 also uses best-in-class sensor vision and safety systems. Though Tesla isn’t in favor of using LiDAR technology, Ford, Waymo, and General Motors have invested heavily in it.

With the latest round of funding, Voyage plans to expand its reach within and outside the retirement community. The company is also working on the next version of its autonomous vehicle, the G3.

Robotaxi competitors

Voyage’s run from startup to expansion seems quite impressive. Though the funds raised by the company are lower than the investments made by leading automakers, Voyage is growing fast. In the autonomous ride-sharing industry, Alphabet’s (GOOGL) (GOOG) Waymo, Ford (F), and Tesla (TSLA) are making huge investments in commercial launches.

Alphabet’s Waymo: A major robotaxi player

Waymo is on its way toward the commercial launch of robotaxis. The company is already operating its service in two cities: Phoenix and Silicon Valley. In Phoenix, some rides are charged, while in Silicon Valley, the service is run for employees. Within the past couple of months, the robotaxis have completed 10,500 trips, 70% of which have received five-star ratings.

Further, Waymo has a strategic alliance with Land Rover Jaguar to design and produce an autonomous fleet of Jaguar I‑PACE vehicles. The duo expects as many as 20,000 I-Pace vehicles to be part of Waymo’s ride-sharing autonomous network in the first two years of its production. To learn more, read Alphabet’s Waymo Is Planning Massive Expansion of Taxi Service.

Ford is making its way

Ford is investing heavily in becoming a leader in the autonomous vehicle segment. The company, along with Volkswagen, has invested in Argo AI for research and development of autonomous vehicles. It plans to launch its self-driving cars by 2021.

Ford believes that the transportation industry is evolving fast, and robotaxis could bring in a new age of growth. The company plans to tap this opportunity with Ford Smart Mobility. Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford, said, “Transportation in the world today is on the cusp of a major revolution, and Ford plans to lead the way by changing the way the world moves through Ford Smart Mobility.”

Robotaxis by Tesla

Another mainstream player, Tesla, is all set to launch its fleet of robotaxis by 2020. It will initially offer its Model 3 for the robotaxi service. Tesla is also planning to launch Tesla Network, which will allow owners to place their autonomous vehicles as robotaxis.

Tesla Network, an innovative concept, could change the way the transportation sector works. Moreover, customers will look at car ownership from a different perspective. Some might not want to own a car at all due to the availability of robotaxis. However, others could own a vehicle for the earnings opportunity (which Tesla puts at about $30,000 per year).

Tesla’s car will come with a next-generation battery, which will be good for about 1 million miles. These cars will require minimal maintenance and have a competitive operating cost. The company expects its robotaxis to run at a cost of about $0.18 per mile, much lower than major ride-sharing companies.

Apple is still keeping its project a secret

Apple (AAPL) isn’t far behind in the race. It’s acquired Drive.ai for its hush-hush autonomous car project. Recently, it tested its self-driving car in Cupertino for its sensors. The company has been pretty quiet on its autonomous car progress, but it’s testing more and more self-driving cars.

Overall

Voyage is quite small compared to the behemoths in the industry, but it’s seeing impressive growth. It does plan to expand outside the retirement community, but it will need time to reach cities (considering its long path to commercialization in urban areas). Plus, in the next couple of years, leading automakers may have launched robotaxi networks. The company will likely need more time to grow in order to compete with the heavyweights.

To learn more, read Autonomous Cars: Ford and Tesla Have Big Plans.

CVX

Next article
13
Sep

Here’s Why Tesla Bulls Are Having a Nightmare
WRITTEN BY Mohit Oberoi, CFA

Tesla stock is having a terrible run this year. Based on yesterday’s closing prices, the stock is down 26.1%, while the S&P 500 has risen 20.0%.

Previous article
13
Sep

Paul Singer Hedges His Portfolio against a Recession
WRITTEN BY Rabindra Samanta

Paul Singer increased his holdings in QQQ put option contracts by 22%. He reduced his holdings in QQQ call option contracts by 60% on a sequential basis.

Tags:

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • ford
  • Ford robotaxis
  • ford self driving
  • ride-sharing
  • self driving ride sharing
  • Self-Driving cars
  • tesla
  • Tesla robotaxis
  • Tesla self driving
  • Waymo
  • Waymo robotaxis
  • Waymo self driving
  • Latest articles

    13Sep

    Is Tesla Bear Jim Chanos Buying Something New?

    WRITTEN BY Rabindra Samanta

    Jim Chanos, the founder and president of Kynikos Associates, is a long-time short-seller of Tesla stock. Tesla stock has fallen 17.5% in the last year.

    13Sep

    Cannabis Coverage by Cowen: Cresco, Curaleaf, Acreage

    WRITTEN BY Sushree Mohanty

    Despite Aurora Cannabis’s subdued results, Cowen initiated coverage on five cannabis stocks: CRLBF, GTBIF, CURLF, MMNFF, and ACRGF.

    13Sep

    Watch 5 to Position Apple as Undisputed Market Leader?

    WRITTEN BY Namrata Sen Chanda

    Apple (AAPL) announced an upgrade to its Watch series with the Apple Watch 5. Here’s why Apple should keep leaning into the health ecosystem to stay on top.

    13Sep

    Generac Challenges Enphase Energy, SolarEdge Duopoly

    WRITTEN BY Vineet Kulkarni

    Short-seller Citron Research noted that Generac Holdings could challenge solar microinverter makers Enphase Energy and SolarEdge’s duopoly.

    13Sep

    Where Natural Gas Prices Could End Up Next Week

    WRITTEN BY Rabindra Samanta

    On September 12, natural gas prices rose 0.9% to $2.574 per MMBtu, and the EIA reported its natural gas inventories for the week that ended on September 6.

    13Sep

    BNED’s Digital Transformation: Too Little, Too Late?

    WRITTEN BY Sybil Prowse

    Barnes & Noble Education’s (BNED) financial struggles suggest that its digital transformation still hasn’t taken off. But is it too late?

    Market Realist

    About UsContact Us
    Privacy PolicyCookie PolicyTerms of Service
    About UsContact UsPrivacy PolicyCookie PolicyTerms of Service

    Related Posts:

    • No Related Posts

    Voyage raises $31m to bring autonomous cars to retirement communities

    There was also significant participation from Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and Chevron Technology Ventures. The total …

    Following fresh investment, autonomous vehicle firm Voyage is now expanding its teams in Palo Alto and Florida.

    On Thursday (12 September), Palo Alto-based start-up Voyage announced that it had secured $31m in Series B funding.

    The autonomous vehicle company, which spun out from online education organisation Udacity in 2017, participated in the Y-Combinator accelerator.

    In a blogpost about the funding, Voyage co-founder and CEO Oliver Cameron noted that the round was led by Franklin Templeton. There was also significant participation from Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

    Voyage has raised a total of $52m to date, which is a relatively small figure compared to the billions invested into self-driving cars by Waymo, Cruise and Uber.

    As Forbes pointed out in a recent profile, Voyage has been building up real-world experience in low-speed autonomous vehicles for two years, focusing on a niche that aligns with where autonomous vehicle technology is at the moment.

    Cameron told Forbes: “A zero-to-25mph self-driving car – we believe that problem is very, very solvable. The zero-to-65mph self-driving car will take more time, so we’re trying to deliver on this really critical promise of self-driving cars by finding a solvable problem. We want to focus our time on the places or people that desperately need something better.”

    Two engineers in a white car, having a discussion while one holds a laptop.

    From left: Voyage engineers Alan Mon and Trung-Dung Vu. Image: Voyager

    In the company’s blogpost about its latest round of funding, Cameron said: “At Voyage, our mission is to deliver on the promise of self-driving cars, and we are thrilled to be working with forward-thinking investors who deeply believe in that mission.”

    The CEO added that these new resources will help the company deliver an autonomous ride-hailing service to the customers who need it most.

    Commercialisation plans

    Cameron also outlined the company’s next steps. He said that Voyage will expand its team of self-driving experts and expand its fleet of G2 self-driving cars in California and Florida, before eventually introducing the company’s G3 self-driving car.

    With this technology, Voyage plans to provide transport services to older residents in retirement communities.

    “Our first driverless product (with no test driver) aims to ensure there’s always a viable option to move around independently within a community,” Cameron explained.

    “We’ve been working for over two years on this driverless product and progress has been rapid. Our vehicles intelligently and autonomously navigate the complex neighbourhoods of our communities, and safely transport our passengers door-to-door.

    “This capital will take us to the next level, enabling us to commercialise safe, self-driving technology within and outside these communities.”

    Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, said that investing in Voyage is a natural step for the company.

    “Chevron has been supporting the public’s transportation needs for over 100 years,” she said. “As our customers’ mobility needs and preferences change, we want to continue to be part of their journeys. Our investment in Voyage affirms this commitment.”

    The company is now hiring for engineering, operations and leadership positions in both Palo Alto and Florida.

    Related Posts:

    • No Related Posts

    Waymo CEO Reveals Plans for Self-Driving Trucks, a Bold Promise Uber Failed to Achieve

    SEE ALSO: Tesla Insurance Confirms Elon Musk’s Faith in Self-Driving’s Future. “Our technology can make trucking safer and stronger, and fill a …
    John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, speaks at the International Frankfurt Motor Show opening ceremony.

    John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, speaks at the International Frankfurt Motor Show opening ceremony. Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Waymo, the self-driving startup backed by Google’s parent company Alphabet, is best known as a leader in making autonomous driving systems for small cars and minivans. But its CEO John Krafcik, like many of his auto tech peers, wants to take his company’s futuristic technology one step further… to trucks.

    Speaking at the International Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany on Thursday, Krafcik said Waymo is eyeing a fully self-driving truck and has the necessary technology to make it happen.

    SEE ALSO: Tesla Insurance Confirms Elon Musk’s Faith in Self-Driving’s Future

    “Our technology can make trucking safer and stronger, and fill a pressing need for more drivers in many parts of the world,” Krafcik said.

    Expanding self-driving from cars to trucks may sound like a standard move for an auto tech company, but it’s actually quite a bold promise, because applying new technology to automobiles is often not a one-size-fits-all game.

    Take electric cars, for example. Today, millions of electric cars are sold worldwide every year, but there has yet to be an entirely electric truck to reach the market due to the difficulty of making a powerful enough, yet small enough, battery for such a heavy-duty vehicle.

    According to a Carnegie Mellon University study this year, a battery powerful enough to drive a semi-truck 600 miles (the range offered by most electric sedans) would require a battery that weighs more than the cargo.

    Self-driving trucks, while not subject to the same challenges as electric trucks, will face their own set of hurdles.

    Pickup trucks, for example, are designed to be driven on rough terrain and are expected to deal with difficult road conditions, which means their self-driving systems may require a completely different training process than the ones made for small cars running on city roads. Not to mention, the greater damage trucks could cause if things go wrong.

    But Krafcik said Waymo’s software is ready to take on the challenge.

    “We’ve already conducted road tests of the Waymo Driver in Class 8 trucks across the U.S.,” he said. “And we’re working closely with the ecosystem—shippers, truck makers and tier one suppliers—to ensure a successful deployment.”

    If successfully deployed, self-driving trucks could provide a solution to a growing shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. and many European countries. Waymo’s primary rival in the self-driving tech space, Uber, had mulled a similar project in the past, but the program was shut down in July 2018.

    Waymo CEO Reveals Plans for Self-Driving Trucks, a Bold Promise Uber Failed to Achieve

    Related Posts:

    • No Related Posts

    Applied Intuition raises $40 million for autonomous vehicle simulation tools

    Applied Intuition today announced that it has secured $40 million in a series B round led by General Catalyst, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, …

    Simulators are invaluable assets for companies developing autonomous vehicles (AVs). These tools are used by Waymo, GM’s Cruise, Zoox, and countless others to validate systems’ scalability and safety, not to mention training the machine learning algorithms underlying car makers’ real-world vehicles.

    But not every company has the resources to build their own software simulator from scratch. That’s why former Google product manager and software engineer Peter Ludwig (who worked on Android Automotive, Google Maps, and Google My Business) and Y Combinator partner and COO Qasar Younis (previously group product manager at Google Maps) cofounded Applied Intuition, which provides infrastructure for developing, testing, and deploying AVs. After a successful two years spent attracting the business of unnamed driverless vehicle, mining, and delivery robot companies in Silicon Valley, Detroit, Europe, and Asia, they’re gearing up for expansion with fresh capital in tow.

    Applied Intuition today announced that it has secured $40 million in a series B round led by General Catalyst, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Microsoft’s M12, Sozo Ventures, and La Famiglia. Previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Lux Capital, and Floodgate also contributed, bringing the two-year-old Sunnyvale, California-based company’s total raised to over $50 million, following an $11.5 million series A in September 2018.

    The new investment will enable Applied Intuition to accelerate its international expansion, said General Catalyst managing director Hemant Taneja.

    “The team at Applied Intuition represents a rare combination of top Silicon Valley and Detroit experts who are uniquely equipped to shape the future of the transportation industry. What they’re building aims to move the entire industry forward, in part by significantly increasing the velocity of software development,” added Taneja. “That intersection of focus and skill set makes us believe this team has the potential to become an enduring leader in the autonomy space.”

    Applied Intuition’s extensive integrated development environment enables customers to simulate every component of their tech stack. That’s in contrast to the video game engines some companies use to build and test driverless cars, engines Ludwig and Younis argue are generally geared toward visuals rather than realistic physics.

    Within Applied Intuition’s on-premises and cloud platform, developers can import maps for locations of interest (as well as the behaviors of objects in that environment) and use a drag-and-drop scenario editor to generate permutations to cover edge cases. They’re able to run large sets of scenarios against AV software and step through code with a web-based visualizer, as well as tracking progress and sharing results with collaborators via URLs while programmatically extracting drive snippets with customized rules.

    Applied Intuition says its solution scales to millions of petabyte-sized simulations across large fleets of delivery robots, cars, and trucks, and it says the average customer is able to integrate its solutions with existing software within two weeks.

    Current and previous Applied Intuition investors include TalkBin cofounder Michael Ma, Matrix general partner Illya Sukhar, and Product Hunt founding team member Erik Torenberg. Its founding team hails from Google, Google parent company Alphabet’s X lab, Waymo, Microsoft, Amazon, Nvidia, Apple, Aptiv, and Bosch, plus automakers like GM, Volvo, Toyota, Ford, and Tesla.

    Applied Intuition’s funding infusion comes as autonomous car companies are increasingly open-sourcing tools. The latest version of Baidu’s Apollo, the Beijing company’s open source full-stack software solution for driverless vehicles, was released earlier this year. Separately, Waymo recently debuted a data set for autonomous vehicle multimodal sensors, following Lyft’s reveal of its corpus for autonomous vehicle development. In June, Cruise open-sourced Webviz, a tool for robotics data analysis, and in February Uber launched a web-based platform for vehicle data called Autonomous Visualization System.

    Sign up for Funding Daily: Get the latest news in your inbox every weekday.

    Related Posts:

    • No Related Posts