PALO ALTO — Autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto has closed a $159 million Series B financing round, led by a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and Greylock Partners. Other participants include previous strategic investors BMW iVentures, General Motors Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and the venture unit of global financial services and insurance provider Allianz Group, and Series A investors Playground Global and Draper Nexus.
The funds will fuel Nauto’s growth and the deployment of its retrofit safety and networking system into more vehicles around the globe, as well as support the expansion of the Nauto data platform in autonomous vehicle research and development across multiple automakers. As more Nauto units get deployed and Nauto-enabled vehicles accumulate more miles, the Nauto network becomes more precise, gains an even greater understanding of human driving behavior and provides more valuable data and safety features. The resulting insights help improve fleet safety and operations, as well as save lives and reduce liability and expenses. Over time the Nauto data platform will inform the transition to and co-existence of human-driven and autonomous vehicles.
“SoftBank and Greylock, along with our key strategic partners, are turbo-charging Nauto’s ability to make roads safer today and to create an onramp to autonomy for the near future,” said Nauto founder and CEO Stefan Heck. “At a time when traffic fatalities are climbing and distracted driving causes more than half of all crashes, we’re tackling that problem by putting Nauto’s safety features into more commercial fleet vehicles — from trucks and vans to buses and passenger cars — to warn drivers and coach them on how to stay focused. And, in pursuit of the profoundly transformational impact autonomous vehicle technology can have on business and society, we’ll now more rapidly be able to gather the billions more miles of real driving experience and data required to get a precise understanding of how the best drivers behave behind the wheel.”
“While building an increasingly intelligent telematics business, Nauto is also generating a highly valuable dataset for autonomous driving, at massive scale,” said SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son. “This data will help accelerate the development and adoption of safe, effective self-driving technology. We believe in Nauto’s potential to revolutionize the automotive sector and look forward to enabling their success.”
“In the future, driving will be a networked activity, with tighter feedback loops and a much greater ability to aggregate, analyze, and redistribute knowledge. By building a network of vehicles and drivers, Nauto is accelerating the transition from a human-driver dominant world to a safer, more efficient autonomous-driving era,” said Greylock partner and Nauto board member, Reid Hoffman. “Stefan Heck is a smart, seasoned entrepreneur, and the talented Nauto team is building a valuable automotive data platform that will not only make roads safer now, but also gain valuable insights about how humans operate cars for the future.”