Self-driving startup Venti raises US$28.8 million to speed up growth


SELF-DRIVING startup Venti Technologies said on Tuesday (Mar 28) it has raised US$28.8 million in Series A funding to speed up the growth of its autonomous vehicle (AV) business for customers the logistics and supply chain industry.

Investors in the funding round included LG Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of LG Corp unit LG Group, and UOB Venture Management, the venture capital arm of Singapore’s United Overseas Bank.

Venti has been developing its self-driving for vehicles for the last three years at one of the world’s largest container ports in Singapore and is already generating revenue.

This year the company will deploy dozens of entirely self-driving vehicles, CEO Heidi Wyle told Reuters.

She said Venti’s focus will be on AVs for ports, airports, warehouses, factories and depots, all environments with few pedestrians that are easier to automate.

Venti was founded in 2018 by a number of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) alumni, including Wyle.

The technology the firm has developed can park 45-foot (13.72 m) trucks with trailers accurately down to one inch (2.54 cm), she said.

“The problem we are solving is 10,000 times simpler mathematically and computationally than downtown San Francisco,” Wyle said.

Developing fully self-driving vehicles that can go everywhere has proven harder and more expensive than expected, but investors are continuing to fund startups that target simpler self-driving vehicle solutions far removed from pedestrians and other vehicles operated by humans.

As robotaxi companies have missed many targets for rolling out self-driving cars, investors and customers have become wary of promises of full autonomy.

Wyle said customers now want proof the technology works. Last September Venti had to demonstrate a driverless pilot run at the Singapore port for an “exacting customer”.

“We’re now their core autonomy provider,” she said. “But they made us prove it.” REUTERS