Self-driving startup DeepRoute.ai nets over $300m Series B from Alibaba, others

DeepRoute.ai's full-stack self-driving demo vehicle. Visuals from the company website.

Self-driving technology developer DeepRoute.ai announced on Tuesday the completion of a Series B funding round at over $300 million, as the startup continues its commitment to advancing urban logistics and popularising robotaxis.

The oversubscribed round was led by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, with participation from Asia-based growth capital investor Jeneration Capital and a fund affiliated with automaker Geely. Returning investors Fosun RZ Capital, Yunqi Partners, and Glory Ventures backed the new round, said the startup.

With headquarters in China’s Shenzhen and Fremont, in the US, DeepRoute.ai develops medium-duty trucks under DeepRoute-LINK and robotaxis under the DeepRoute-INJOY divisions, while offering self-driving solutions to partners such as Chinese state-owned automaker Dongfeng Motor and Geely’s ride-hailing venture Cao Cao Mobility.

The startup plans to use the new funding to further R&D, expand collaboration with automakers, and recruit more talent. Its long-term strategy includes developing medium-duty trucks for urban logistics to help improve transit for shipments and freight delivery.

As the first in Shenzhen to open robotaxi services to the public, DeepRoute.ai has also received a Passenger Carry Permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) with preparations to offer such services in California later this year.

The startup currently has over 100 pick-up and drop-off points in Shenzhen. Following the COVID-19 outbreak in China, its self-driving fleet transported about 14,000 COVID-19 test samples per day to local hospitals in the city.

DeepRoute.ai aims to grow its robotaxi fleet to approximately 100 by the end of 2021, as interest in autonomous transportation and demand for affordable ride-hailing services increases, said the startup.

In October 2019, the startup raised $50 million in a Series Pre-A round led by Fosun RZ Capital. GoldenSand Capital, Yunqi Partners, Ventech China, and Green Pine Capital Partners (GPCP) participated in the previous deal.

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.