Voyage raises $31m to bring autonomous cars to retirement communities

13 Sep 2019

One of the neighbourhoods where Voyage has tested its vehicles. Image: Voyage

Following fresh investment, autonomous vehicle firm Voyage is now expanding its teams in Palo Alto and Florida.

On Thursday (12 September), Palo Alto-based start-up Voyage announced that it had secured $31m in Series B funding.

The autonomous vehicle company, which spun out from online education organisation Udacity in 2017, participated in the Y-Combinator accelerator.

In a blogpost about the funding, Voyage co-founder and CEO Oliver Cameron noted that the round was led by Franklin Templeton. There was also significant participation from Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

Voyage has raised a total of $52m to date, which is a relatively small figure compared to the billions invested into self-driving cars by Waymo, Cruise and Uber.

As Forbes pointed out in a recent profile, Voyage has been building up real-world experience in low-speed autonomous vehicles for two years, focusing on a niche that aligns with where autonomous vehicle technology is at the moment.

Cameron told Forbes: “A zero-to-25mph self-driving car – we believe that problem is very, very solvable. The zero-to-65mph self-driving car will take more time, so we’re trying to deliver on this really critical promise of self-driving cars by finding a solvable problem. We want to focus our time on the places or people that desperately need something better.”

Two engineers in a white car, having a discussion while one holds a laptop.

From left: Voyage engineers Alan Mon and Trung-Dung Vu. Image: Voyager

In the company’s blogpost about its latest round of funding, Cameron said: “At Voyage, our mission is to deliver on the promise of self-driving cars, and we are thrilled to be working with forward-thinking investors who deeply believe in that mission.”

The CEO added that these new resources will help the company deliver an autonomous ride-hailing service to the customers who need it most.

Commercialisation plans

Cameron also outlined the company’s next steps. He said that Voyage will expand its team of self-driving experts and expand its fleet of G2 self-driving cars in California and Florida, before eventually introducing the company’s G3 self-driving car.

With this technology, Voyage plans to provide transport services to older residents in retirement communities.

“Our first driverless product (with no test driver) aims to ensure there’s always a viable option to move around independently within a community,” Cameron explained.

“We’ve been working for over two years on this driverless product and progress has been rapid. Our vehicles intelligently and autonomously navigate the complex neighbourhoods of our communities, and safely transport our passengers door-to-door.

“This capital will take us to the next level, enabling us to commercialise safe, self-driving technology within and outside these communities.”

Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, said that investing in Voyage is a natural step for the company.

“Chevron has been supporting the public’s transportation needs for over 100 years,” she said. “As our customers’ mobility needs and preferences change, we want to continue to be part of their journeys. Our investment in Voyage affirms this commitment.”

The company is now hiring for engineering, operations and leadership positions in both Palo Alto and Florida.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic