Chinese self-driving tech startup DeepRoute.ai raises $50m round led by Fosun RZ

Photo: Reuters

Chinese self-driving solutions provider DeepRoute.ai has secured nearly $50 million in a pre-Series A round of financing led by Fosun RZ Capital, a Beijing-based investment affiliate of Fosun Group.

GoldenSand Capital, which owns the flagship venture capital platform GSR Ventures, Shanghai-based Yunqi Partners, Europe and China-focused investment company Ventech China, and Chinese venture capital firm Green Pine Capital Partners (GPCP) also participated in the latest round, Fosun RZ Capital said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Fosun RZ Capital has started to track [the development of] the self-driving industrial chain including self-driving solutions and core components since 2016,” said Jin Hualong, chairman of Fosun RZ Capital. “Autonomous driving, as a key industry largely supported by the Chinese government, bears a great market potential.”

The investment comes at a time when the Chinese authority is paying more attention to regulate and ensure the healthy development of the self-driving industry. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) introduced an industry development plan in December 2018, pledging to realize the large-scale and commercialized application of intelligent and connected vehicles (ICVs) by 2020.

ICVs, which include self-driving vehicles, are defined as a future generation of vehicles, equipped with advanced in-car sensors, controllers, actuators and other devices and integrated with modern communication and network technologies. These vehicles are able to exchange information and present functions like sensing complex surroundings, intelligent decision making and collaborative control.

DeepRoute.ai, incorporated in China in February 2019, operates as a self-driving solution provider specialized in level 4 autonomous driving technologies. With research centres in Shenzhen, Beijing and Silicon Valley, the startup mainly develops self-driving technologies covering sensing, high-definition mapping and positioning, cloud computing and storage, and other products like hardware systems, infrastructure, and simulators.

The company has teamed up with Chinese state-owned automaker Dongfeng Motor to obtain a self-driving road test license for passenger vehicles in central China’s Hubei province. The two companies also plan to deliver point-to-point robot-taxi services, allowing passengers to book self-driving cabs through a WeChat mini-programme during the 7th CISM Military World Games in Hubei’s capital city of Wuhan in October 2019.