Autonomous driving startup Momenta raises $500 million from SAIC, Toyota, others

Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta said it has received $500 million from SAIC Motor, Toyota Motor and auto parts supplier Bosch, as the global auto industry pursues the autonomous future.

Other investors in the funding round include Daimler AG, Temasek, Yunfeng Capital and Tencent, Momenta said in a statement. It did not disclose the valuation.

The four-year-old firm, led by Cao Xudong, a former Microsoft executive, is testing autonomous cars in Beijing and China’s eastern city of Suzhou, and has a research centre in Germany’s Stuttgart.

Momenta is working with automakers to develop mass-production vehicles with self-driving functions to gather real-time data for the fully autonomous driving technologies for future products. Data is a key part of the self-driving industry which enables companies to improve their technologies in different environments.

Momenta will expand its workforce and gather more data to improve future technologies, it said.

Toyota last year partnered with Momenta to develop a high definition (HD) mapping platform in China for autonomous driving vehicles, a key to allowing such vehicles to locate themselves.

Shanghai-based SAIC Motor is China’s biggest automaker, which has partnerships with Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. On Thursday it said would partner with U.S. lidar maker Luminar Technologies to develop self-driving vehicles.

Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of road transport, though some industry insiders say it will take time for the public to fully place their trust in these vehicles.