Every major car company is working on self-driving cars, but leave it to startups to innovate the fastest.
Drive.ai is one of those startups, and it’s making moves that have quickly cemented it as a player even among the biggest companies in the industry.
The company announced on Thursday that it has signed its first major partnership, inking a deal to provide Lyft with the kind of high-end software necessary for cars to safely operate.
The two companies will work together to deploy cars with experimental technology near San Francisco. Drive.ai is calling it a “pilot” program that will “expand our technical capabilities and develop our roadmap for broader commercialization,” the company stated in a blog post.
The deal with Lyft lends a healthy dose of legitimacy to Drive.ai.
Drive.ai also announced a fresh $15 million in funding, adding on to a $50 million round it announced earlier in 2017. That funding comes from a group of investors including Grab, an Uber-like service from Singapore, where Drive.ai will open an office. Singapore has emerged as one of the most welcoming cities in the world for self-driving cars.
The race to build self-driving cars has already drawn in hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists and car companies all looking to capitalize on what is now broadly seen as the future of transportation. But the highly technical and still-mostly experimental nature of self-driving car technology has provided a chance for the industry’s small pool of talent to venture out on their own—hence Drive.ai and other startups that are able to compete with multi-billion-dollar companies.
The biggest example of this remains Anthony Levandowski, an ex-Google employee who earned a whopping $120 million at the company then left to start his own self-driving car startup. That startup was then quickly bought by Uber—sparking a lawsuit that is still going.
Drive.ai concentrates on the software necessary for cars to understand their surroundings and make decisions. The company touts its use of “deep learning,” a type of software that tries to copy how the human brain works in order to produce programs that can solve complex problems.
To get a sense of Drive.ai’s capabilities, check out the video below.