Nauto, which develops driver-monitor cameras and algorithms for autonomous vehicles, is among a growing list of driverless startups able to attract tens of millions of dollars in funding after raising $159 million in its latest round of financing.
Led by a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and Greylock Partners, other participants include BMW, iVentures, General Motors Ventures, and Toyota AI Ventures.
Also this week, self-piloted robotics maker Brain Corp. raised $114 million, with investments from VC firm SoftBank and the investment division of chip maker Qualcomm Ventures, while Embark secured $15 million to develop neural network self-drive systems it is testing in Peterbilt commercial trucks.
And don't forget Ford's $1.0 billion investment in driverless startup Argo AI earlier this year following GM's $1.0 billion investment in Cruise Automation in 2016.
Besides being flush with capital, one thing these startups have in common is they almost invariably have yet to offer something that is deployed commercially. The auto industry is traditionally very conservative and risk averse, which means those who hold the purse strings in the industry are obviously confident their spending spigot is going to pay off.
Audi says competitors will struggle to catch up to its lead in driverless after its A8 became the world's first Level 3-capable car available in retail channels following its launch earlier this month. In an interview with _Automotive News Europe, Audi R&D chief Peter Mertens said he was confident no one could "jump ahead" of the German premium carmaker pending legislation changes before customers can activate the A8's Level 3 driving mode.
Microsoft to provide the backbone for Baidu's cloud network for its driverless fleets worldwide. Driverless cars hold promise for the blind.