The Station: Luminar takes the SPAC path and Voyage lifts the hood on its next-gen robotaxi

The Station: Luminar takes the SPAC path and Voyage lifts the hood on its next-gen robotaxi

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Hello and welcome again to The Station, a publication devoted to all the current and future methods individuals and packages transfer from Point A to Point B.

I’ll skip the standard wind up and get proper to issues this week. We’ve obtained SPACs, enterprise offers and micromobility information together with a peek at one AV firm’s latest automobile.

I needed to say one merchandise earlier than we launch as a result of it speaks to a bigger challenge of security and the way some shared mobility startups are turning to tech in an try to enhance it.

Shared electrical moped startup Revel resumed operations in New York City a month after shutting down its service following a number of deaths. The startup’s blue mopeds (3,000 of them) that had change into a well-known sight in New York City are again, however with a variety of new protocols and options aimed toward boosting security and assuaging metropolis officers. Revel is leaning closely on tech, and particularly its app, to enhance security, together with coaching movies and exams, a helmet selfie characteristic that requires photographic proof the consumer is sporting a helmet and a neighborhood reporting instrument. The query is, will this effort be adequate?

Image credit: Getty

Alright, let’s go!

Email me anytime at to share ideas, criticisms, supply up opinions or suggestions. You also can ship a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.


the station scooter1a

Remember final week once I informed y’all about California Assembly Bill 1286? Here’s a fast refresher: the invoice handed the Assembly in 2019 and moved over to committee throughout the Senate. It sat untouched till this month, when it popped up and handed a committee vote, an motion that despatched it to the total Senate.

To say the micromobility business was caught off guard, is perhaps an understatement. The motion set off alarm bells and a coalition of micromobility corporations, advocacy teams and bike share operators despatched a letter to Senate management arguing that the invoice was an existential risk to shared micromobility within the state. The group was particularly involved with a line within the invoice that might prohibit corporations from placing a legal responsibility waiver within the consumer settlement.

That language was eliminated this week, prompting at the very least a number of emails with feedback like “micromobility in California has been saved.”

The National Association of Transportation Officials launched its annual report on the expansion and use of shared micromobility corresponding to bike share, e-bike share and scooter share within the United States. This report focuses on 2019 ridership information, nevertheless, NACTO additionally weighs in a bit on the primary half of 2020.

The examine discovered that folks within the U.S. took 136 million journeys on bikes and scooters in 2019 — a 60% improve from the earlier yr. Of these journeys, 40 million have been on station-based bike share programs. The remaining 96 million journeys have been on dockless programs with 10 million on ebikes and 86 million on scooters.

That doesn’t imply it was a balanced image. NACTO reported that scooter growth was in some circumstances unstable as corporations exited markets on the finish of the yr (previous to the pandemic), presumably as a consequence of over-competition and different market pressures.

NACTO report micromobility

Image Credits: NACTO

Shared micromobility journeys have been on common 11 to 12 minutes lengthy and for a distance of 1 to 1.5 miles. Short journeys are essential, NACTO stated in its report, noting that 35% of all U.S. automotive journeys are below 2 miles.

Adam Kovacevich, Lime’s head of North America and APAC Government Affairs, referred to as the numbers “eye popping” in an emailed assertion, including that “People are voting with their toes, they usually clearly need extra scooters and dockless bikes of their cities.”

We’re not completed but; yet another merchandise of be aware. Jump returned to the Sacramento area on Saturday. Through an settlement with SACOG, Lime stated it’s now the “unique” regional bikeshare operator for the area.

Deal of the week

money the station

Luminar, the lidar startup based in 2012 by whiz child and Thiel fellow Austin Russell, has taken the SPAC path to the general public markets. SUMMER OF THE SPAC CONTINUES!

The lidar startup introduced it was merging with particular goal acquisition firm Gores Metropoulos Inc., with a post-deal market valuation of $3.four billion. The SPAC merger comes simply three months after Luminar hit a important milestone and introduced that Volvo would begin producing automobiles in 2022 geared up with its lidar and a notion stack. Volvo plans to make use of the Luminar expertise to deploy an automatic driving system for highways in its manufacturing automobiles.

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1598801914 531 The Station Luminar takes the SPAC path and Voyage lifts

Image Credits: Luminar

Russell informed me in a latest interview that they needed to go public in some unspecified time in the future, however the momentum from the Volvo deal together with curiosity inside public markets led the corporate to take the SPAC route.

Luminar is the most recent startup — and second lidar firm — to show to SPACs this summer time in lieu of a standard IPO course of. In June, Velodyne Lidar struck a deal to merge with particular goal acquisition firm Graf Industrial Corp., with a market worth of $1.eight billion. Four electrical automobile startups have additionally skipped the normal IPO path in latest months, opting as an alternative to go public by a merger settlement with a SPAC, that are also referred to as clean examine corporations. Canoo, Fisker Inc., Lordstown Motors and Nikola Corp. have gone public through a SPAC merger this spring and summer time. Shift Technologies, a web based used automotive market, additionally used a SPAC to go public.


Image Credits: Xpeng through Weibo

Meanwhile, Chinese electrical automaker Xpeng Inc. made its public market debut the old style method. Although this conventional IPO path nonetheless packed in some sudden monetary thrills. Despite escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, the corporate raised greater than it anticipated in its preliminary public providing.

Xpeng, which started buying and selling Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange below the ticker image XPEV, stated in a submitting that it offered 99.7 million shares for $15 every, elevating about $1.5 billion by its preliminary public providing. The automaker had initially deliberate to promote 85 million shares with a worth steering of between $11 and $13.

Xpeng will want the capital. The firm faces an more and more crowded pool of electrical automakers in China, together with Tesla, Li Auto and Nio. Shares of Xpeng closed up at $22.79 on Friday.

Other offers that obtained my consideration …

CoPilot, a cell app for getting and proudly owning automobiles, raised $10 million in a brand new Series A funding spherical led by Next Coast Ventures, with participation from Max Levchin’s SciFi Ventures and Arthur Patterson, co-founder of Accel Partners, together with current traders Chicago Ventures. The funding brings the corporate’s complete exterior funding to $17 million.

curbFlow, a curb administration startup that makes use of a community of laptop imaginative and prescient units to detect obtainable parking spots, raised $eight million in seed stage funding led by General Catalyst and Initialized Capital. Doordash is its first paying buyer. Keep an eye fixed out for an extended piece on curbFlow; I interviewed the founder Ali Vahabzadeh in regards to the startup and the place he sees it evolving. If the identify Ali Vahabzadeh sounds acquainted, it ought to. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Chariot, the on-demand shuttle service that Ford acquired after which killed off.

Delivery Hero, the Berlin-based restaurant supply firm that operates primarily in rising markets, acquired Dubai-based grocery supply platform InstaShop. The acquisition values the corporate at $360 million, $270 million upfront plus a further $90 million primarily based on InstaShop assembly sure progress targets, in keeping with the corporate. Investors in InstaShop are absolutely celebrating proper now. The 5 year-old startup had raised simply $7 million earlier than being acquired.

Firefly, which gives Uber and Lyft drivers a digital show to make extra cash by operating advertisements, acquired Strong Outdoor. The firm stated it has additionally change into the promoting companion for fleet operator Sally.

Fox Robotics, the Austin-based startup that builds automated forklifts, raised $9 million in a Series A spherical led by Menlo Ventures. The newest spherical brings its complete funding so far as much as $13 million, with assist from earlier traders Eniac, Famiglia, SignalFire, Congruent, AME and Joe.

Motiv Power Systems, an organization that builds all-electric chassis and software program programs for the electrification of medium-duty vans and buses, stated it has secured $15 million in extra funding from GMAG Holdings Corp. The firm that the funding might be made by way of convertible notes which might be anticipated to be transformed right into a Series C funding spherical, which Motiv is within the means of elevating.

Shopmonkey, a San Jose, Calif.-based SaaS startup that serves auto restore retailers, raised $25 million in a Series B funding spherical led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from Index Ventures, and I2BF.

Zoomo, a three-year-old electrical bike platform marketed to gig financial system supply employees, raised $11 million from a Series A funding spherical led by Australian Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Zoomo was truly Bolt Bikes till this previous week. The firm introduced its new identify together with its funding spherical. The spherical additionally included fairness from Hana Ventures and current traders Maniv Mobility and Contrarian Ventures, along with enterprise debt from OneVentures and Viola Credit.

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People: layoffs, hiring and strikes

It’s been a minute since I wrote about hirings and firings and such. Two bits of hiring information obtained my consideration this week.

Rivian electric vehicles

Image credit score: Rivian

First up, Bloomberg reported that Rivian employed former Tesla govt Nick Kalayjian to guide its engineering. Kalayjian is changing Mark Vinnels, a former govt a McLaren Automotive.

You may recall that relations between Rivian and Tesla are a bit prickly in the intervening time. Tesla filed a lawsuit in July towards Rivian and 4 former employers on claims of poaching expertise and stealing commerce secrets and techniques. Specifically, Tesla claimed that Rivian instructed a just lately departed Tesla worker in regards to the sorts of confidential data it wanted.

Rivian just lately fired again. Rivian filed movement to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that two of the three claims within the case fail to state adequate allegations of trade-secret theft and poaching expertise and as an alternative was an try to malign its repute and harm its personal recruiting efforts.

It must be famous that Kalayjian didn’t come straight from Tesla; he had a quick stint at San Francisco-based Plenty Inc., in keeping with his Linkedin profile. Still, Kalayjian spent a decade at Tesla, and his transfer to Rivian doubtless obtained the eye of his former employer.

Convoy, the digital freight community that connects truckers with shippers, has employed former Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom as the corporate’s president and Chief Operating Officer, efficient August 31, 2020. Okerstrom might be accountable for Convoy’s finance, operations, gross sales, advertising, provide, and market progress groups. Okerstrom wrote a weblog about what prompted to depart Expedia after a decade.

Convoy is barely 5 years outdated, but it surely’s change into a large within the nascent digital freight enterprise. The firm has managed to draw a slew of high-profile traders corresponding to Jeff Bezos, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Greylock Partners, Y Combinator, Cascade Investment (the personal funding automobile of Bill Gates) and founders Hadi and Ali Partovi. Even U2’s Bono and the Edge have invested in Convoy.

Last November, Convoy introduced it had raised $400 million in a Series D funding spherical, funding that might be used to scale its enterprise amid an more and more aggressive market. Convoy stated on the time that its post-money valuation to $2.75 billion.

AV Spotlight: Voyage

Voyage G3 robotaxi

Image Credits: Voyage

Autonomous automobile startup Voyage is a smaller enterprise than its business friends, when it comes to capital raised and variety of staff. But that doesn’t imply Voyage isn’t making strikes — and progress.

The three-year-old startup exams and operates a self-driving automobile service (with human security operators) in retirement communities in California and Florida. They began by modifying Ford Fusion automobiles and later retrofitted FCA’s Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans with its autonomous automobile expertise. Last yr, Voyage partnered with FCA to offer next-generation purpose-built Pacifica Hybrid automobiles which have been developed for integration of automated expertise. These automobiles include customizations corresponding to redundant braking and steering which might be crucial to soundly deploy driverless automobiles. (The partnership wasn’t introduced till this spring).

Now, Voyage is lifting the veil on its third-generation robotaxi, referred to as G3. CEO Oliver Cameron tells me G3 is designed to drive with out the necessity of a human security operator, geared up with COVID killing U-VC {hardware} and half the price of its earlier second-generation (G2) automobile.

It might sound odd for the CEO of an AV firm to exclaim that its automobile is designed to be driverless. What Cameron means is that the automobile era has progressed to some extent the place it has the entire crucial redundancies and automotive grade {hardware} to maneuver past testing and into business driverless operations. Voyage factors to a few applied sciences that get it there.

First, there’s the mind of the G3 — internally referred to as Commander — that’s powered by its notion, prediction and behavioral modules. Commander runs atop a safety-certified middleware and monitored by self-diagnostic programs. Then there’s the collision mitigation system referred to as Shield that acts as a backup system to convey the automobile to a secure cease if crucial. And then lastly, a distant operations characteristic referred to as Telessist. When the mind, or Commander, faces a novel or chaotic site visitors scenario it has the potential to ask for help.

Voyage has talked about these parts earlier than, but it surely has by no means actually dug into the compute aspect of issues. As Cameron famous to me, “it was you had to decide on between automotive grade and efficiency. Now, we have now each.”

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Voyage labored with Nvidia on the compute. It additionally concerned one other firm, which took the Nvidia boards and made them automotive grade. “So suppose ruggedized aluminum, suppose security licensed, suppose liquid cooling — all of the issues you’ll want to do that safely and in a automobile,” Cameron stated.

Also of be aware, Voyage is utilizing Blackberry’s QNX working system within the G3. This era additionally has a variety of options aimed toward its senior citizen clients, together with two-way voice, additional steps to assist mobility-challenged riders get out and in of the automobile, additional lighting, and an in-cabin consumer interface that caters to vision-impaired riders.

The Station Luminar takes the SPAC path and Voyage lifts

Image Credits: Voyage

Inside the automobile, Voyage has added U-VC {hardware} to kill COVID and different airborne ailments. Cameron stated they knew it will be important to search out some cost-effective method of cleansing the automobiles. A pal prompt that he look into ambulances.

“Ambulances have actually discovered the right way to stop contamination from one individual to a different after every journey,” Cameron stated. “It seems they primarily use UV-C and it seems in a number of research and publications that UV-C at a sure depth, kills COVID.”

The UV-C lights, offered by an organization referred to as GHSP, are positioned in every row of the automobile.

Despite the additional price of the UV-C lighting and different options, Cameron stated the G3 remains to be 50% cheaper than its earlier era.

“In the previous 12 months, we’ve seen our sensor prices lower by 65% and our compute prices lower by 25%, leading to a automobile that’s about 50% cheaper than the prior era. And that’s places us on a viable path to generate profits.”

The G3 isn’t fairly prepared for prime time. Beta variations of the G3 are being examined on the highway in San Jose. Production automobiles and business driverless are anticipated to comply with subsequent yr.

Notable reads and different tidbits


Loads of different mobility information went down this week. Let’s test it out.

Bentley’s Bentayga packed in a collection of surprises for TechCrunch’s Matt Burns. Here’s what he found over 24 hours with the $177,000 sport utility automobile.

Blackberry is pushing into China. The firm introduced it will likely be powering the Level Three driving area controller of Xpeng, one of many most-funded electrical automobile startups in China, and Tesla’s native challenger.

Bollinger Motors, the Michigan-based startup recognized for its rugged electrical SUV and pickup truck, unveiled a supply van idea referred to as the DELIVER-E that it plans to begin producing in 2022. This shouldn’t be confused with the E-Chassis, now referred to as Chass-E, that the corporate designed for Class Three business automobiles.

Elon Musk referred to as an tried cyberattack towards Tesla “severe,” a remark that confirmed the corporate was the goal of a foiled ransomware try at its large manufacturing unit close to Reno, Nevada. The Justice Department launched a grievance that described a thwarted malware assault towards an unnamed firm in Sparks, Nevada. It wasn’t clear if the corporate was Tesla till Musk publicly commented on it. Russian nationwide Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, allegedly tried to recruit and bribe a Tesla worker to introduce malware within the firm’s community, in keeping with the grievance.

Ford, Bosch and Bedrock are demonstrating automated valet parking in downtown Detroit. This system is designed to permit drivers to exit a automobile and the automobile would park itself within the parking construction. You may recall that Bedrock additionally has a pilot with automated shuttle startup May Mobility.

The Station Luminar takes the SPAC path and Voyage lifts

Image Credits: Ford

GM is shifting the engineering group accountable for the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette to the corporate’s electrical and autonomous automobile packages to “push the boundaries” on what its future EV battery programs and elements can ship, in keeping with an inside memo from Doug Parks.

Monet, a three way partnership between SoftBank Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled two tailored vans. One of the vans pumps contemporary air by the automobile to scale back the danger of COVID-19 publicity, Reuters reported., the self-driving startup, and Bosch reached an settlement to discover the way forward for automotive upkeep and restore for autonomous fleets. The corporations began in July a pilot of the robotaxi fleet upkeep at an undisclosed Bosch Car Service location within the San Francisco Bay space.

Scout Campers unveiled its new Kenai unit, a camper that packs an enormous quantity of apparatus into its small footprint, together with a 160-watt photo voltaic panel, CNET’s Roadshow experiences.

Xwing, the autonomous aviation startup, revealed its go-to-market technique, a plan that features specializing in regional 500-mile distance cargo flights.


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