There are 500,000 yard trucks currently operating around the world, according to ISEE. Driving them can be difficult, tedious, and dangerous, said the startup. ISEE yesterday announced that it has obtained $40 million in Series B funding, which it plans to use to hire staffers as it continues developing self-driving yard trucks.
“By leveraging advanced cognitive modeling, game theory, and deep learning, we’ve developed proprietary technology that’s a perfect match for the challenges of a logistics yard,” stated Yibiao Zhao, co-founder and CEO of ISEE. “Our self-driving technology is the most advanced autonomous yard tractor product on the market.”
ISEE, which spun out of MIT in 2017, claimed that it is the “first and only company to achieve fully autonomous operations in the logistics yard space.” The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said it has developed a unique “humanistic” artificial intelligence that gives yard trucks “common sense.”
ISEE addresses a global problem
The global supply chain is in need of modernization, and many challenges can be addressed by focusing on one key link—the logistics yard, asserted ISEE. Shipping containers and trailers wait in such yards to be transported by truck to warehouses or distribution centers.
ISEE said its self-driving yard trucks offer operators predictable capacity, performance, and safety, as well as cost savings. Businesses including Fortune 100 companies in e-commerce, retail, automotive OEMs, and third-party logistics (3PL) have recognized the value proposition as they modernize their fleets, it added.
The company said its technology works with different yard trucks and that it has already completed more than 10,000 self-driving trailer moves at customer sites.
“Our customers value the fact that we are platform-agnostic,” said Zhao. “No matter what their fleet—diesel or electric—with ISEE technology, we can make their fleet fully autonomous.”
In addition, ISEE said it can deploy autonomous trucks and start “live loads” in just four weeks with no infrastructure changes and no disruption to yard operations. It claimed that its “driverless hostler” pilots have been 100% successful.
Investors interested in speeding self-driving yard trucks
Founders Fund led ISEE's Series B round, with participation from Maersk Growth, Eniac Ventures, New Legacy, and other new and existing investors. The company has raised a total of $70 million since 2017.
“ISEE is focused on logistics yards because of their economic importance and because autonomous driving is ready to perform in logistics yards today,” said Scott Nolan, a partner at Founders Fund. “That’s why ISEE is already working with some of the world’s largest companies and why we backed them again.”
“ISEE has built the leading technology solution in the market. Period,” added Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, a partner at Maersk Growth.
The potential for a strong return on investment (ROI) is driving demand, said ISEE. It said its technology can help customers achieve a 30% internal rate of return (IRR) and benefit from a technology stack “that enables them to manage their operations with unprecedented efficiency.”
As a result, ISEE said its revenue has grown by more than 20x in the past 12 months alone.
“With this new funding and a strong customer pipeline, we’re excited to scale our operations and accelerate our business growth so that we can bring our self-driving technology to more customers,” said Debbie Yu, co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of ISEE.
ISEE values diversity and is hiring
Because ISEE was co-founded and is led by a minority woman, the company values diversity— of background, experience, and perspective—and sees it as critical to success.
“Diversity, especially in leadership, gives ISEE a breadth of experience and perspective that enables us to better understand and collaborate with our diverse set of customers,” said Yu.
In her role, Yu spearheads ISEE’s go-to-market strategy and leads conversations with investors. Despite often being the only woman in the room, Yu’s background of growing up in an entrepreneurial family has prepared her well. She was recently named a “2022 Power Player in the Self-Driving Industry” by Business Insider.
“Debbie is passionate about building products that solve real-life problems and that deliver real value to customers,” said Hadley Harris, founding general partner of Eniac Ventures. “Her customer-centric approach sets ISEE apart. The decision, a couple of years ago, for ISEE to go to market with an autonomous driving product for yard trucks was a good one.”
When asked about the future, Zhao replied, “We are deeply committed to our mission of building a future where autonomous machines can thrive alongside people, seamlessly and safely, freeing us to do what we do best.”
ISEE is hiring; see open roles at https://jobs.lever.co/isee.