Cathay Capital Leads Round In Coal Mine Driverless Transportation Startup ViPioneers

ViPioneers, a driverless transportation system startup focused on the coal mine and mining sector in China, has announced the completion of a series A2 round of financing of over RMB100 million yuan. It is led by Cathay Capital; Sigma Square Capital and Hina Group also participated.

This round of financing is mainly used for the product development, platformization and systematization of the overall unmanned mining driverless transportation solutions, promoting the implementation of unmanned solutions for "coal underground mines", and promoting the mass production and delivery of unmanned mine equipment.

ViPioneers has previously received angel round financing from CASH Capital, and announced in July last year that it had obtained A1 round of financing, led by SAIF Investment Fund, and Sigma Square Capital and Hina Group. After getting the A2 round of financing, the company’s total amount of A round of financing exceeded RMB200 million yuan. This is by far the largest single round of financing in the field of unmanned transportation in the mining area.

According to the information provided by the company, in April 2019, the company signed a tripartite strategic cooperation agreement with Datang International Baoli Coal Mine and Warwick Mining, and through more than five months of trial operations on the mine, the unmanned system was officially completed in September of the same year.

The unmanned transportation system in its unmanned mine overall solution can provide unmanned transportation, excavation card coordination, intelligent dispatching, emergency takeover and other functions in closed mines to complete the entire process of unmanned transportation.

The system takes only two weeks from vehicle deployment to operation. The new unmanned mining truck is 8.7 m long, 4 m high, 90 tons at full load, and 20 km / h at full load and stable speed. Automated driving, fleet scheduling and other features can be remotely controlled, which can meet the needs of the mining site, eliminate the safety risks of mining personnel, reduce operating costs, and help mining companies improve their profitability.

ViPioneers’ unmanned transportation solution is based on the "parallel driving theory" proposed by its chief scientist, Professor Wang Feiyue. Professor Wang Feiyue is currently the director of the State Key Laboratory of Complex System Management and Control of the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was the director of the Robotics and Automation Laboratory of the University of Arizona in the 1990s. At that time, he led the team to assume Caterpillar large field loaders (Wheel Loaders) ‘S automation project, developed the world’s first fully automated self-driving truck for loading, digging and transportation, and applied it to BHP Billiton’s mining operations.

At present, the startup has signed strategic cooperation agreements with domestic leading OEMs such as XCMG, Sany, Weichai, Tongli, Beifang, Aerospace Heavy Industry and Dongfeng. Among them, Huituo has cooperated with XCMG, Sany and other OEMs to develop mining heavy machinery for more than two years, is promoting mass production of front and rear loads, and has obtained a large number of orders.

Huituo and Shenhua Group, a subsidiary of National Energy Group, jointly won the bidding project of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s specific scenario car networking service system bidding, which is the first national level unmanned driving scenario in domestic mining areas.

The company said that 2019 is the first year of unmanned mining vehicles, and the new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in 2020 will accelerate the speed of "machine replacement", making the industry and the outside world aware that intelligent and unmanned vehicles can maximize labor productivity and operational efficiency, to ensure that mining takes place as scheduled.

Although the upstream supply cycle and the application progress of the downstream mining area have been affected by the epidemic situation, which may be delayed for a few weeks, the company’s overall plan for this year has not changed, and it is still planning to build a batch of intelligent demonstration coal mines.

In the next three years, the company will use mining areas as its core, implement autonomous driving technology in more use case scenarios, and conduct business in many overseas countries.

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