Startup Trends: Auto-Tech sector makes major moves

The autonomous driving industry is experiencing significant advancements, with companies like Waymo, Wayve, and Einride making notable progress in the last year.

Waymo expands in major metros

Waymo, a pioneer in autonomous driving technology, continues to make significant strides. According to the San Francisco Chronicle in May 2024, Waymo plans to expand its driverless ride-hailing services to more areas of the San Francisco Peninsula. The expansion will include seven cities, with city regulators approving the company to expand into 22 additional cities including South Bay later this year. The pilot program will only be available to Waymo’s employees to start.

The Bay Area expansion comes on the heels of test trials in major metropolitan areas like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Austin which began earlier in the year. These trials have translated into tens of thousands of rides per week for Waymo.

The headlines have not all been positive for the autonomous vehicle industry. Some city officials in San Francisco have expressed concern with Waymo’s entrance due to reports of safety issues. In a recent statement from Waymo to CBS News, the company pledged, “We’ll take an incremental approach to expansion, following our safety framework and continuing to work closely with city officials, local communities, first responders, and our partners to ensure we’re offering a service that’s safe, accessible, and valuable to riders.”

Waymo, once known as the Google of self-driving vehicles, is also a subsidiary of the same company. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s Forge Price™ was $91.92 as of June 10, 2024, which implies a valuation of $35.34 billion. A list of the startup’s investors includes Fidelity, Andreessen Horowitz, T. Rowe Price, and Alphabet

Wayve advances AI tech for the industry

With self-driving vehicles on the scene, companies like Wayve are optimizing the industry through tech enablement. The London-based private company develops the backend AI framework used in autonomous vehicles. Last April, the company announced the opening of its Vancouver office, designed to be an innovation center for the firm and its clients. That same month, the company unveiled its latest product, LINGO-2, the first vision-language model tested on public roads. The company claims the technology has visual and learning capabilities to improve driver decisions.

And Wayve has obtained significant funding. In May of 2024, Wayve closed one of Europe’s largest VC funding rounds at $1 billion (£790 million), as the company looks to build the tech stack that will make self-driving cars a reality for everyday commuters. The Series C round was led by Softbank, with participation from NVIDIA and Microsoft.

Founded in 2017, Wayve was one of the first to develop an end-to-end autonomous driving system for use on public roads according to its website.

Einride on path to autonomous freight delivery

While autonomous vehicles may be synonymous with passenger transport, the shipping and trucking industry is being reshaped by this emerging technology as well. Stockholm-based Einride provides electric freight services and autonomous mass delivery for its clients.

In November 2023, the company’s full-time fleet of driverless trucks partnered with GE Appliances’ manufacturing facilities in Selmer, Tennessee. According to the company’s website, the fleet does short-distance delivery between multiple GE facilities and some GE customers. The vehicles are controlled by human drivers at a control center located nearby. Einride has been testing its driverless trucks in the U.S. and Europe since 2021 with plans to expand the service.

Human-driven trucks are also part of Einride’s business lines, albeit with less of a carbon footprint. In recent weeks, the private company purchased 150 Model 579EV battery-operated trucks from automaker Peterbilt. It’s part of Einride’s initiative towards an on-demand, zero-emissions shipping service for its customers. The deliveries are set to start in late 2024 and continue through 2025.

Founded in 2016, Einride has partnerships with such companies as MAERSK, Bridgestone, Heineken, and Mars, among others.

About the Author

Chris Cannon develops lifecycle programs that engage Forge’s existing client base. Prior to joining Forge, he led audience engagement programs and newsletter operations at Investopedia, the global financial and investing media company. Chris received his MBA from East Carolina University and a BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Read more from Chris.

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