Electronics and Semiconductors

Chinese Self-Driving Car Startup Raises $1 Billion in Funding

23 October 2018
Momenta is building Level 4 autonomous technology for automotive OEMs. Source: Momenta

Momenta, a Chinese-based automotive startup, is the latest in a series of car manufacturers to raise significant amounts of funding in an effort to establish a new line of self-driving vehicles.

The company has closed about $46 million in funding led by NIO Capital, Cathay Capital and Shunwei Capital as well as funding from the Chinese government at a valuation of over $1 billion.

Started in September of 2016, Momenta is building intelligent systems for autonomous driving aimed at providing Tier 1 automotive OEMs and suppliers with systems that can be incorporated into next-generation vehicles.

The company said in the past two years it has established big data and computing platforms; developed deep-learning algorithms as the foundation of perception, HD semantic mapping, planning and control; and developed multi-level autonomous driving solutions for mass production for highway and urban scenarios.

After forming a strategic agreement with the government of Suzhou, China, Momenta plans to deploy a large-scale test fleet this year to accelerate its Level 4 autonomous driving system and work with the government to build a smart transportation system.

Autonomous driving, combined with electric vehicles, is seen as the next big thing in the automotive space and has numerous new companies emerging to take advantage of an untapped market. Faraday Future is one of these companies that has emerged. After struggling to find its footing initially, it got a huge boost in funding to the tune of $2 billion earlier this year.

SF Motors made its debut this year as well. Prior to its announcement that it was developing a fleet of electric cars and self-driving vehicles, SF Motors was granted a permit to begin testing its cars in California and then launched its initial plan to develop in-house batteries and roll out new cars by 2019.

Also on the list is Icona with its Nucleus vehicle that will use its proprietary Elaphe in-wheel motor technology and have a range of about 745 miles. While strictly a concept at this point, the Nucleus could be the future of cars, entirely without a dashboard or steering wheel.

Taking a similar approach to Momenta is AImotive, which is developing autonomous driving systems that will be used by automotive OEMs in future vehicles.

Aimed at the luxury autonomous vehicle segment is Byton, which made its debut at this year’s CES. The company has so far rolled out plans for two vehicles — the K-Byte, a sedan with retractable sensors, and the M-Byte, an SUV with a full display dashboard.

While Faraday Future is based in the U.S. but funded by Chinese electronics and venture capital firms, LeEco is based in China and backed by some of the same companies. LeEco has raised $1.8 billion in order to build its own self-driving vehicles, including the first car, the LeSee, which may make its debut in 2019.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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