AutoX raises $100m from Dongfeng Motor and Alibaba

17 Sep 2019

Image: AutoX

Now that Alibaba has invested in AutoX, the start-up plans to apply its autonomous driving solutions to the logistics sector.

On Monday (16 September), self-driving start-up AutoX announced that it had closed a $100m Series A funding round.

The funding round is reported to be one of the largest fundraisers for autonomous driving in China so far this year. Investment was led by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, the Chinese state-owned automaker, with participation from Alibaba and Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play China fund.

There was also participation from the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, a public company set up by the Hong Kong government in 2001.

Hong Kong-based AutoX was founded in 2016 by Jianxiong Xiao, a former Princeton professor who specialises in 3D deep learning, computer vision and robotics.

The company describes itself as being “on a path to build the world’s most experienced AI driver to enable mobility and logistics companies to enjoy the benefit of the most reliable self-driving technology”.

A green AutoX taxi driving through a countryside field in autumn.

Image: AutoX

Expansion plans

With its latest round of funding, AutoX said it plans to build its autonomous driving fleet and hire new members for its technical team, which already consists of top scientists from MIT, CMU, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Harvard. It has offices in both Hong Kong and San Francisco.

The company also announced plans to apply its autonomous driving solutions to the logistics sector, in partnership with Alibaba’s ecosystem. It will also enter the south-east Asian market for the first time, following investment from the region.

At the beginning of September, AutoX partnered with Shanghai authorities, announcing plans to roll out a fleet of 100 “robotaxis” in the city’s Jiading district by early 2020.

Xiao said that now that its Series A round is closed, the company will increase focus on completing the construction of its large-scale autonomous driving motorcade, laying out plans for strategic cooperation and continuing to expand its R&D team.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic