Chinese Autonomous Driving Tech Firm Motovis, A Mobileye Wanna-Be, Raises Series A Round

Chinese investors continue pouring money into autonomous driving technology in the hope of discovering the next Mobileye. In the latest example, Hangzhou-based venture capital firm Lanting Capital has led a series A round in Chinese autonomous driving technology firm Motovis.

Keytone Ventures also participated in the round, according to a company announcement. The firm did not disclose the specific amount of financing raised except to say it’s worth tens of millions of U.S. dollars.

The deal follows several other significant investments in the sector. Most recently, NIO Capital, a private equity fund established by Chinese electric car company NIO, together with Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital, led a US$46 million series B round in Momenta, a Beijing-based autonomous driving tech start-up.

Founded in 2015, Motovis applies artificial intelligence and computer vision technology to advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that provide a level of autonomy to vehicles. Similar to U.S. company Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel earlier this year at a valuation of over $15 billion, Motovis’ technology can identify when a vehicle is drifting off the road, is at risk of collision and can initiate emergency braking and other advanced driving assistance functions. To augment its system, the company said it has collected street data across 30 provinces in China, covering five million kilometers of road.

The company also said it has signed working agreements with BAIC Group’s electric car making arm, BAIC BJEV, a unicorn worth US$4.2 billion, and expects to enter production in early 2018.

"A year ago, you could only see ADAS used in luxury cars, but recently, ADAS has been widely used in many affordable cars," said Liu Jiong, founding partner at Lanting Capital, "We believe more Chinese companies like Motovis will leverage their local knowledge and provide more efficient and lower-cost auto-driving solutions."

Motovis’ CEO Yu Zhenghua is former vice president of BOCOM Smart Network Technologies Inc., a provider of smart security and intelligent transportation solutions. Other founding members include Shen Chunhua, a former computer science professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and Chen Changyi, founder of Shanghai Intron Technology Co.,Ltd., a company that produces electric parts for cars.