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Autonomous Driving Startup Momenta Reaches a $1 Billion Valuation With New Funding Round

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【Summary】China-based autonomous driving startup Momenta has secured another $46 million in a new round of funding to reach a $1 billion valuation, becoming one of the first autonomous driving unicorns in China.

Eric Walz    Oct 17, 2018 6:28 PM PT
Autonomous Driving Startup Momenta Reaches a $1 Billion Valuation With New Funding Round
author: Eric Walz   

China-based autonomous driving startup Momenta has secured another $46 million in a new round of funding to reach a $1 billion valuation, becoming one of the first autonomous driving unicorns in China. The company is based in Beijing.

Investors in the new round include Tencent, government funds from Shanghai and Suzhou, China Merchants Group, and CCB International. Existing investors NIO Capital and Pagoda Investment increased their investments in the company.

Since the company was founded in 2016, Momenta has attracted investments totaling more than $200 million. The company is also part of the Nvidia Inception Program, an accelerator which provides deep-learning support from Nvidia for exceptional startups who are revolutionizing industries with advances in AI and data science.

Momenta Founder and CEO Xudong Cao said the funding will be used to further promote the implementation of Momenta's autonomous driving technology.

"This round of funding has strategic importance to the company," Cao said. "Momenta will continue to work closely with its strategic partners in automotive, logistics, big data and other related areas."

Momenta was founded in September 2016 by a team of Chinese computer vision experts. The company applies deep learning algorithms in perception, high-definition semantic mapping, and data-driven path planning to enable autonomous driving.

Momenta bills itself as a tier 2 software provider and aims to build the brains for self-driving cars. The company is building intelligent systems for autonomous driving, aiming to provide solutions for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs.

Momenta's team includes world-class deep learning experts, including the authors of the most advanced image recognition frameworks, Faster R-CNN and ResNet.

Momenta's team has grown significantly within the past two years, with about 80 percent of the its employees being researchers and developers.

Cao said that in the past two years, Momenta has undergone three phases of development, including establishing big data and computing platforms, developing deep-learning algorithms and multi-level autonomous driving solutions for mass production for highway and urban environments.

This year, Momenta formed strategic partnership with the government of Suzhou, where the company will deploy a large-scale test fleet to accelerate its Level-4 autonomous driving development and support the government in building smart transportation systems. Momenta has expanded its business to international OEMs and major tier-1 suppliers.

One of the key challenges for autonomous driving is ensuring extremely high level of safety and reliability. Momenta solves this problem by creating and utilizing what it calls a closed feedback loop of big data, AI and solutions.

The company has adopted an object-based storage system and distributed database to execute the storage, management, and analysis of the big data required for autonomous driving, while operating data collection, data filtering, and model training running on a closed data loop on the cloud.

Based on its big data and deep-learning technology, Momenta has algorithms that can accurately detect human driving behavior, pedestrians, road conditions, and various types of vehicles with a high level of precision. Momenta's data is collected from its own crowd-sourcing channels.

In addition, Momenta has independently developed a whole set of deep-learning based software in perception, HD semantic mapping, and data-driven path planning, which enables the realization of full autonomy. Momenta has developed multi-level autonomous driving solutions as an aftermarket add-on or a solution that comes preinstalled in a OEM vehicle.

The company's AutoRing kit is a aftermarket advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) which is comprised of two cameras—one camera facing the driver and a second road-facing camera. The system provides active safety functions and fleet management services.

Momenta's Mpilot is designed for automotive OEMs and is a 3 pre-installation solution for series production. The system is based around affordable low-cost sensors such as camera and radar sensors, and integration of HD Maps. With Mpilot, Momenta aims to provide the ultimate "mind-free hands-free" autonomous driving experience on freeways and urban roads.

In August, Momenta demonstrated its autonomous driving technology at the AWS Global Summit 2018. The company presented how its team created a robust data platform capable of processing massive amounts of data to support its level-4 autonomous driving technology.


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