Mapping firm Kuandeng nabs $14.2 million in Series A+

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(Image credit: Kuangdeng)

Tethered to the rise of autonomous driving are the high-definition (HD) maps which function as the backbone of navigation systems for self-piloting cars. Kuandeng, a Chinese mapping solutions provider, announced Monday that it has completed a RMB 100 million (around $14.2 million) round of fundraising as the mapping sector in China heats up alongside new technology vehicles.

Why it matters: HD maps help improve the safety of self-driving cars, an issue which underpins widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles (AV), by providing images of road surfaces and surrounding environments in addition to sensors and cameras.

  • Chinese tech giants are scrambling for market entry. Huawei is setting it sights on becoming a Tier 1 supplier for smart connected vehicles in China, announcing in July that it had secured a license from the natural resources ministry to create its own precision map.
  • Meituan Dianping reportedly acquired another Chinese mapping company, Careland, earlier this year to add muscle to its ride-hailing and unmanned delivery businesses.

Detail: Kuandeng announced Monday nearly RMB 100 million in a Series A+ led by a little-known venture capital firm, Yihang Funds.

  • The funds will be used to increase its presence in autonomous driving and V2X, a technology approach that provides high-bandwidth, low-latency communication between vehicles, road signs, and other traffic-related sensors.
  • The two-year-old startup became one of just a dozen or so companies in China to win a mapping permit from the central government earlier this year.
  • The company in July 2018 kicked off a survey of more than 1 million kilometers in the course of preparing a nation-wide HD map covering 100 domestic cities.
  • It had a fleet of more than 20 vehicles for collecting road information in major domestic cities including Beijing and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, the company said in January during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
  • Formed in 2017 by Liu Jun, formerly the head of Baidu’s location-based service (LBS) business and Google China executive, Kuandeng is developing the next generation of HD maps for autonomous cars and offers navigation mapping services to automakers and Tier-1 suppliers.
  • Boasting its vision-based HD mapping solution, the company partnered with Visteon, the world’s largest automotive supplier with a focus on the digital cockpit, in April this year.

Meituan starts recruitment drive for mapping services

Context: Unlike traditional mapping service companies which collect data and draw their own maps, Kuangdeng advocates the more cost-effective crowdsourcing approach involving a large number of individual users to collect, contribute, and verify data.

  • The Beijing-based company secured several hundred million of RMB in an early 2018 Series A led by IDG Capital, and including Chinese venture capital firms Chengwei Capital and Lanting Capital.