The self-driving vehicle race accelerated this year, with funding flowing to developers of autonomous trucks. Robotic Research OpCo LLC today announced that it has raised $228 million in Series A funding. The Clarksburg, Md.-based company said it will use its first outside capital to drive further innovation and expand its RR.AI division, which is focused on commercializing autonomous driving systems for commercial truck, bus, drayage, and logistics vehicles.
“This investment reflects our success in developing autonomous solutions for our U.S. government customers, and [it] will provide the resources needed to meet our growing commercial customer demand and the expansion of our commercial efforts,” said Alberto Lacaze, CEO of Robotic Research.
Robotic Research said it has delivered autonomous mobility and robotics systems to the defense sector for two decades. The company said some of its products have been used on roadways around the world, as well as in the harshest unstructured environments without relying on GPS connectivity.
RR.AI AutoDrive proven for multiple environments
RR.AI cliaimed that its AutoDrive “vehicle-agnostic, full-stack” autonomy kit is trusted by OEM partners. The system has already been integrated in a variety of vehicles, including North America’s first automated heavy-duty transit bus, Class 8 trucks, and yard trucks, said the unit.
AutoDrive provides “an end-to-end, 360° autonomous driving solution for commercial transportation that spans across complex operational design domains” (ODDs), said RR.AI. It said this means AutoDrive can be used on-road, off-road, or in the yard.
“Our long history and experience has enabled us to develop a proven solution that is not only rugged, safe, and reliable, but also versatile and ideal for operating across a variety of environments, weather conditions, and use cases,” said Lacaze.
SoftBank and Luminar work with Robotic Research
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Enlightenment Capital led Robotic Research's Series A round. Other investors included Crescent Cove Advisors, Henry Crown and Co., and Luminar Technologies Inc.
“We believe that autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to reshape how goods and people are moved around,” said Akshay Naheta, senior vice president of SoftBank Group Corp. and former managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Robotic Research has a track record of operating in the commercial sector and has built a differentiated autonomy solution by focusing on tangible, revenue-generating opportunities.”
This is the first strategic equity investment to date by Luminar, which makes automotive-grade lidar hardware and software. Robotic Research said it is working with Luminar on strategic opportunities to advance autonomy and has selected the company as its long-range lidar provider.
UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisor and placement agent for Robotic Research. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP acted as legal advisor, and Covington & Burling LLP acted as special counsel to Robotic Research.
Despite Plus calling off its planned merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last month, investors are continuing to bet on the future of autonomous freight.
Other recent transactions involving autonomous trucks include FJ Dynamics Technology's $70 million Series B, Kodiak Robotics' $125 million Series B, Gatik's $85 million Series B, and DeepRoute.ai's $300 million Series B.
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