UK autonomous car startup FiveAI has received nearly £27 million in funding, from both government and private investors.
The Cambridge based, research-intensive firm, says it is “well on its way” to creating tech that will allow vehicles to autonomously deal with busy roads, including pedestrians and cyclists.
FiveAI CEO Stan Boland identified the company’s aim as being to reduce the number of people travelling on their own, and to use FiveAI’s tech to potentially create autonomous public transport.
FiveAI is taking on the market through two strategies; first, by building its own system to create allow autonomous driving, then using that AI-based system to compete with Uber and other similar services with a fleet of self-driving cars.
The private investment was led by venture capital firm Lakestar Capital, with £14 million in backing through a series A funding round. The government funding comes in the form of a £12.8 million grant to the StreetWise consortium, a scheme announced in April.
The consortium aims to launch a driverless car service in London before 2020 and will aim to compete directly with Waymo, a Google owned organisation, and Uber. It consists of companies such as McLaren, Oxford University, and Direct Line, and is led by FiveAI.
The UK’s business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, spoke of the government’s determination to take on the market: “Low carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and the UK has a great opportunity to lead this technology revolution.
“The StreetWise Consortium has helped FiveAI to attract significant inward investment for a project that will help build on our expertise and reputation in self-driving technology and support our clean growth, low-carbon agenda.”
Dharmash Mistry, of Lakestar Capital, said: “Dense European cities present totally different technical, behavioural, regulatory and infrastructure challenges to their US and Chinese counterparts for safe urban driverless technologies.
“By assembling its talented team in the UK and seeking to support London’s transport objectives in partnership with the city itself, FiveAI can play a vital role in reducing congestion, emissions, costs, accidents and journey times, boosting the city economy at the same time.”
U.S. ride sharing startup Via recently received $250 million (approx. £192 million) in funding, led by German automotive group Daimler, to expand into Europe. The company is a challenger to Uber and is also looking to transform public transport.