Self-Driving Vehicles

Kimberly Redmond | |

Baidu Inc has unveiled a second-generation artificial intelligence (AI) chip, a prototype of its first-ever fully autonomous robocar and a rebranded driverless taxi app, which are the Chinese internet giant’s latest investments in areas it believes are key to future growth.

The reveals came Wednesday, during the company’s flagship technology conference Baidu World, which this year aimed to showcase “how artificial intelligence will permeate our daily lives and bring about new, improved experiences.”

Kimberly Redmond | |

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) plans to deploy the first self-driving cars with its partner Argo AI on ride-share service Lyft Inc’s (Nasdaq: LYFT) network by the end of 2021.

In a press release on Wednesday, the companies said the first self-driving Ford cars — which will have a safety driver present — are slated to hit the streets of Miami, Florida, later this year and Austin, Texas, starting in 2022.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Chinese driverless car start-up WeRide Corp announced Wednesday it has completed its Series C fundraising round, bringing in $310 million at a valuation of $3.3 billion dollars.

Investors in the latest round included Alliance Ventures, the venture capital arm of Renault-Nissan-Mistubishi, the state-run China Structural Reform Fund and CDB Equipment Manufacturing Industrial Investment Fund, WeRide said in a press release.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo announced Wednesday it raised $2.5 billion in a second external funding round.

The funds from the round, which included more than 10 participants, will be used for advancing Waymo Driver, the company’s autonomous driving technology, and to grow its team, Waymo said in a press release.

Kimberly Redmond | |

General Motors Company’s (NYSE: GM) majority-owned autonomous car subsidiary Cruise was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to provide passenger service to the public in its prototype robotaxis.

On Friday, the CPUC announced that Cruise was issued the first driverless permit through the agency’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service Program. Under the terms the program, Cruise is not allowed to charge fees for the rides and is required to submit quarterly reports about its vehicles, along with a passenger safety plan.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Chinese driverless car start-up WeRide Corp announced Thursday it has raised new capital valuing the company at $3.3 billion dollars.

WeRide did not share how much was raised in the series C funding round, noting only that it was “hundreds of millions” of dollars from investors including IDG Capital, Homeric Capital, CoStone Capital, Cypress Star, Sky9 Capital and K3 Ventures. Existing investors CMC Capital Partners, Qiming Venture Partners and Alpview Capital also participated in the round.

Reuters | |

Toyota Motor Corp will acquire Lyft Inc's self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said, as the Japanese firm steps up its automation ambitions with the newly created Woven Planet division.

The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide Toyota access to the U.S. ride-hailing firm's more than 300 employees of the essentially complete autonomy technology.

Kimberly Redmond | |

The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit to Chinese driverless car start-up WeRide Corp to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in San Jose without a safety driver behind the wheel.

The DMV, which regulates autonomous vehicle testing in the state, WeRide was given permission to test two self-driving cars on specified streets during daytime hours, Monday to Friday, weather permitting.