Driverless Truck Startup Ike Completes Series A Round, Raises $52 Million
【Summary】The name of the startup originated from President Dwight Eisenhower, as a tribute to his vital contributions in building the US interstate system (via signing of the Federal Aid Highway Act).
Autonomous trucks have the potential to address shortages in human labor and improve safety along highways. In order to benefit from such cutting-edge vehicles, the units must first be refined for use on public roads. This stage in development is crucial to the success of the industry.
Taking a systems approach to building driverless trucks is Ike, an automotive startup with huge ambitions in the nascent sector. The company recently completed a Series A round, which raised $52 million. With the newly acquired funds, the startup will expand its workforce (currently a 30-person team), projects and operations.
Series A Round
The Series A round was led by Boston-based Bain Capital Ventures, which also welcomed Ajay Agarwal (partner at Bain Capital Ventures) to the startup's board. Other participants in the financing round included: Redpoint Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Basis Set Ventures and Neo.
"The temptation when you're working on this technology — because there's so much potential and because there's so much excitement for it — especially for small companies in the early stages, is to try and hack something together and try to get up and running really quickly," cited Alden Woodrow, Co-founder and CEO of Ike.
Woodrow is one of three individuals who co-founded the company. Jur van den Berg and Nancy Sun (the other co-founders of the startup) previously worked at Apple, as well as Uber's Otto. Woodrow, Berg and Sun teamed up to form Ike after Otto encountered massive setbacks in 2018.
The name of the startup originated from President Dwight Eisenhower, as a tribute to his vital contributions in building the US interstate system (via the Federal Aid Highway Act). Signed in 1956, the authorization facilitated the development of more than 41,000 miles of interstate highways in the US.
Technical Development and Pilot Programs
For now, Ike is heavily focused on refining its autonomous software stack. Streamlining this aspect of development is the company's licensing agreement with successful robotics startup Nuro. Through the collaboration, Ike is able to utilize Nuro's hardware designs, maps and data-logging programs. It is important to highlight that Nuro, which announced a partnership with grocery brand Kroger in 2018, holds a minority stake in the startup.
"It's about computer vision and deep learning, but it's also about wire harnesses, alternators, and steering columns. It's about durable sensors, well-crafted regulations, and a clear approach to validation. Ike has systems engineering at its core," said the company.
The startup is planning to launch pilot programs on public roads later this year. During the trials, it will test various autonomous trucking features with a human safety representative inside the cabin of the vehicle. Initially, the company will rely on human operators to drive the trucks to their destinations after covering the majority of the trips autonomously.
Compared to launching self-driving passenger cars in busy cities, driverless trucks for B2B markets are expected to come to fruition at an earlier time. With less obstacles on highways and limited pedestrians to avoid, the technology required during long-haul trips is less complex.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
Waymo Receives Permit to Participate in California’s Autonomous Vehicle Pilot
How Do Autonomous Cars Deal with Double-parked Vehicles?
Kitty Hawk and Boeing Form Partnership to Make Flying Cars Safer
Waymo to Bring Driverless Cars to France and Japan via Nissan-Renault Partnership
Porsche Forecasts EVs Going Mainstream
Zomato Tests Drones for Food Deliveries in India
Alibaba Brings Tmall Genie to Audi, Honda and Renault Vehicles
Driverless Sensor Startup Sense Photonics Raises $26 Million in Series A Funding
- Ford to Use Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries for the First Time as it Aims to Produce 600,000 EVs a Year in 2023, Sets Up Global Supply Chain
- Zeekr’s New 009 Electric Passenger Van is the World’s First EV to Feature CATL’s Advanced ‘Qilin’ Battery With a Range of 510 Miles
- Ford is Investing $3.7 Billion and Adding Over 6,200 UAW Manufacturing Jobs in the Midwest to Produce New Vehicles
- Volvo-backed EV Battery Maker Northvolt, Founded by Former Tesla Execs, Raises Another $1.1 Billion to Help Fund its Expansion
- EV Charging Provider Electrify America Raises $450 Million, Siemens to Become a Minority Shareholder
- The World’s First Level-4 Automated Parking Feature Developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch is Approved for Commercial Use
- Apple Reveals the Next-Gen Version of CarPlay, Which Takes Over a Vehicle’s Entire Dashboard and Screens
- J.D. Power Study Finds That EVs Are More Problematic Than ICE Cars
- Volkswagen Breaks Ground on the First of Six European Battery Cell Factories as Part of a $20 Billion Investment
- Volkswagen’s Software Company CARIAD to Use BlackBerry QNX to Support ADAS and Autonomous Driving Functions of Future VW Vehicles