Caixin
May 16, 2018 04:01 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Self-Driving Startup Roadstar.ai Nets Record $128 Million in Funding

Self-driving car startup Roadstar.ai's wares on display at a tech fair in the southern city of Shenzhen on Nov. 17. Photo: VCG
Self-driving car startup Roadstar.ai's wares on display at a tech fair in the southern city of Shenzhen on Nov. 17. Photo: VCG

Self-driving car specialist Roadstar.ai has raised $128 million, setting a single round private funding record among Chinese startups in the country’s emerging autonomous driving industry.

The series-A funding round was led by Shenzhen Capital Group and Wu Capital, and joined by Yunqi Partners, CMB International Securities, and Vision Plus Capital, the company said in a statement (link in Chinese) Wednesday.

The investment will be used to expand the company’s autonomous-vehicle fleet and improve security and data collection technology, said Roadstar.ai CEO Xianqiao Tong, according to Chinese tech news portal Leiphone.com.

The company will also seek to cooperate with other Chinese internet firms, such as online service platform Meituan Dianping, which recently rolled into the car-sharing business, Tong added.

Shenzhen-based Roadstar.ai was founded in 2017 by three Chinese engineers who had previously led autonomous-driving technologies at big companies such as Google and Tesla.

The move comes as investors are increasingly finding interest in and placing bets on the fledgling self-driving sector, where traditional carmakers, internet firms and startups have been vying to take an early lead.

Roadstar.ai is now competing with dozens of players including Baidu Corp. — the Internet search giant seen as the country’s leader in the self-driving space — and ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing, which recently received permission to conduct public road tests in California.

Roadstar.ai’s latest funding amount exceeds that of Pony.ai, another self-driving car startup, which pocketed $112 million in its series-A round led by two venture firms, Morningside Venture Capital and Legend Capital.

Roadstar.ai focuses on “level 4” autonomous driving technologies, which, according to engineering standards organization SAE International, allow cars to drive autonomously without a driver and can stop themselves should the autonomous system fail.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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