The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Zoox Raises $200m; Hyundai and KT Team Up on 5G; and More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | October 28, 2019

Zoox Raises $200m in Funding

California-based startup Zoox has announced that it has raised $200 million to build the company’s self-driving car

California-based startup Zoox has announced that it has raised $200 million to build the company’s self-driving car. Rather than adopt the approach of other AV developers and apply self-driving technology to existing vehicles, Zoox has taken the more ambitious approach of developing its own vehicles from the ground up—with the early prototypes looking like “the rear halves of two Mini Coopers welded together.” The new funding is significant for the company as it represents the first new investment in Zoox since the firing of co-founder and CEO Tim Kentley-Klay last year and the appointment of Aicha Evans as his replacement in January. The new funding also comes after announcements earlier this month that Zoox will be testing its fleet of AVs in Las Vegas, the company’s second test site after San Francisco. Separately, Zoox CTO and co-founder Jesse Levinson told the audience at the Ignition:Transportation event in San Francisco on Tuesday that there is “no chance” Tesla will launch fully self-driving cars next year, despite CEO Elon Musk’s claims.

KT and Hyundai Test 5G Connectivity
Korean companies KT and Hyundai have started to test their real-time traffic navigation technology on 5G networks for autonomous cars, the companies announced this week. The two companies trialed three cars at Hyundai’s AV trial center in Seosan, Chungcheong Province, where a 5G network has been installed. The trial showed the second and third cars coming to a halt following a sudden stop by the first car, using vehicle-to-everything technology enabled by 5G. The enhanced connectivity provided by 5G is seen as a particularly viable pathway toward widespread, expedited AV deployment, and in a recent Issue Brief, SAFE concluded that the Federal Communication Commission should ensure mobile carriers have access to wireless broadband in the mid-band spectrums as an urgent national priority. In addition, Chinese technology giant Huawei also announced this week it will utilize its 5G technologies to develop radar and other sensors for AV technology. The announcement shows that China is ramping up efforts to compete with U.S. technological leadership in the industry.

NTSB to Hold Uber Crash Hearing in November
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced last week that it will hold a hearing on November 19 to determine the probable cause of the March 2018 crash of a self-driving car that killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The hearing comes after Arizona prosecutors announced in March that the company was no criminally liable in the accident, and they would not pursue charges. Uber suspended on-road testing after the incident, and in the aftermath of the tragedy, many AV companies have scaled back their timelines on AV development and deployment. Footage of the crash also forms the opening scene in a new NOVA documentary on AVs: “Look Who’s Driving” premiered recently on PBS, which investigates the progress and safety of self-driving cars while also analyzing the current road safety status quo.