NEA Leads $50M Round In U.S. Autonomous Driving Technology Start-Up Drive.ai

U.S.-based New Enterprise Associates (NEA) has led a US$50 million series B round in Drive.ai, a Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving technology start-up, with participation from China-U.S. investment firm GGV Capital and China’s Northern Light Venture Capital, according to a company announcement.

Andrew Ng, who until recently was vice president and chief scientist at Baidu Inc., and Carmen Chang, chairman and head of the Asia practice at NEA will join Drive.ai’s board of directors to support the company’s international expansion into China, as well as enhance its autonomous driving technology and strategy.

Andrew Ng left Baidu three months ago, saying he planned to seek new challenges in the use of artificial intelligence beyond the technology world. Four days ago, he announced via his Twitter account that he had launched his new project Deeplearning.ai without disclosing more details.

Founded in 2015, Drive.ai specializes in developing artificial intelligence software for autonomous vehicles using deep learning. The company said it aims to develop an autonomous vehicle which uses a low-cost radar and camera combined with Google 2D maps.

The start-up previously raised a US$12 million series A round from Northern Light Venture Capital and Oriza Ventures in 2016.

Earlier this month, two Chinese autonomous driving start-ups also successfully raised funding. AI-Drive, a Chinese autonomous driving solutions providers focused on unmanned logistics and unmanned aerial lift vehicles, raised a RMB100 million (US$14 million) series A round from Shunwei Capital.

Qingzhi Technology, a Tianjin-based start-up developing autonomous driving technology for commercial vehicles received tens of million of RMB from Northern Light, Legend Star and Longjitaihe Group’s Harmony Fund.