SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Self-driving startup Drive.ai said on Tuesday it raised $50 million in a second round of funding as the Silicon Valley company prepared to deploy its technology in pilot vehicles later this year.
The company, one of a handful of startups building fully autonomous systems for cars, also said it had added to its board Andrew Ng, a prominent figure in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry.
Ng formerly led AI projects at Baidu and Alphabet’s Google. Ng is the husband of Drive.ai’s co-founder and president Carol Reiley, a roboticist.
The latest round of funding – led by New Enterprise Associates, Inc, GGV Capital and existing investor China-based Northern Light Venture Capital – came as investor interest in autonomous vehicles continued to intensify.
Drive.ai is aiming to build an after-market software kit powered by artificial intelligence to turn traditional vehicles operated by businesses into self-driving models.
The company said existing business fleets would deploy its kits in pilot tests by year-end.
Drive.ai plans to distinguish itself through the team’s expertise in robotics and deep learning, a subset of AI in which massive amounts of data are fed into systems until they can “think” for themselves.
Drive.ai, which received $12 million in an initial funding round last year, also named to its board the head of Asia for New Enterprise Associates, Carmen Chang.
(Reporting by Marc Vartabedian, editing by Alexandria Sage and Andrew Hay)