(Image credit: Deeproute.ai)

Deeproute.ai, a Chinese autonomous driving startup, said it has raised $50 million in a fresh round of funding from top Chinese investors, as yet another company bursts into view in the country’s thriving smart mobility market.

Why it matters: The deal may signal that Chinese venture capital funds are once again favoring self-driving startups, as the central government ramps up efforts to surpass the US in leading technologies.

  • The government has set a series of key tasks to strengthen the development of China’s transport system in a guiding document released by the state council on Thursday.
  • Areas of focus include smart, connected vehicles, including autonomous driving and vehicle-infrastructure connectivity, with an end goal of building a complete industry chain, the government reaffirmed in the document.

Detail: Deeproute.ai announced Tuesday it secured $50 million in a Series Pre-A led by Fosun RZ Capital, the venture capital arm of the Chinese conglomerate.

  • Founded by a group of former engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Ford earlier this year, Shenzhen-based Deeproute.ai is developing a “full stack solution” for passenger vehicles.
  • “Full stack” refers to a package solution including all of the technological pieces required for autonomous driving, such as sensors, machine-learning software, and control mechanics.
  • The AV startup, now a supplier for Dongfeng Motor, revealed that it will offer robotaxi services in partnership with China’s second-largest automaker for the upcoming seventh Military World Games, which will take place in the central Chinese city of Wuhan next month.
  • Other investors include GSR Ventures, Yunqi Partners, and Ventech China.
  • Deeproute.ai was not immediately available for comment.

Context: Deeproute.ai has not yet revealed its founding team and keeps many of its company details under wraps. However, some evidence indicates it is linked to Roadstar.ai, a once-leader in the Chinese AV industry.

  • Chinese tech media Touchweb reported that it is a new company formed by Roadstar.ai founder and former chief scientist Zhou Guang, an assertion supported by a person close to the company TechNode spoke with on Wednesday.
  • Founded by three former Baidu engineers in Silicon Valley in 2017, Roadstar.ai ranked 10th in a disengagement report released by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, with a rate of one disengagement every 175 miles (282 kilometers), following Chinese AV companies Pony.ai, Baidu, and AutoX.
  • The Roadstar.ai management team had a public falling out earlier this year, and accusations of corruption and data fraud have been leveled at Zhou. The company was reportedly liquidated in March.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.