Momenta claims China’s first self-driving unicorn title after new round of funding

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According to its press release, Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta has officially achieved unicorn status.

As our sister site reported, the software provider accumulated $200 million in funding after its latest round of financing, featuring strategic investors like Tencent as well as state-backed China Merchants Venture, CCB International, and government funds based in Shanghai and Suzhou.

In the latest round, shareholders Pagoda Investment and NIO Capital also added to their existing investments.

Momenta previously announced a B1 round of funding, led by NIO, as well as a Series B2 led by Cathay Capital. Prior to that, Shunwei Capital took the lead in a Series A on top of angel investments from Blue Lake Capital, Sinovation Ventures, ZhenFund.

Momenta’s valuation has now surged past $1 billion, making it China’s first self-declared autonomous driving unicorn. Its announcement narrowly beat out Pony.ai, which said it was “close to” claiming that title after receiving additional funding in July.

Momenta CEO Cao Xudong commented that “This round of funding has strategic importance to the company,” and that “Momenta will continue to work closely with its strategic partners in automotive, logistics, big data and other related areas.”

In order to thrive, of course, any self-driving startup needs a testing ground and data. Momenta currently holds a strategic partnership with the government of Suzhou, where it “will deploy a large-scale test fleet” in order to continue developing its product. In return, the startup will help support the city’s smart transportation needs.

Momenta, founded in September 2016, has recruited staff with experience building image recognition networks Faster R-CNN and ResNet, as well as winners of contests like ImageNet 2017 and the MS COCO Challenge.

The company’s products include a pre-installation system that allows for autonomous driving on freeways and urban expressways, a “valet parking” product, and a city-focused driving system that may one day power robo-taxis, among other things.