Autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai secured $15 million in funding to help the company expand its leadership team, develop its technology, grow business partnerships and open its first international office in Singapore.
The financing was led by Southeast Asia transportation and mobile payments platform Grab, though others participated as well. The funds build on Drive.ai’s June series B funding round which raised $50 million.
“Self-driving is the global space race of our time, so we’ve had our eyes set on international deployment since the start. This focus is reflected in our investor base, with investors from around the world, and now with Grab,” CEO Sameep Tandon said in a press release. “Grab is an early adopter of autonomous vehicle technology in Singapore, and we are excited to have their support as we open our Singapore office.”
By opening an office in Singapore, the company plans to work with the government and local businesses on development opportunities as well as possibly deploying vehicles in the country. Grab also plans to help Drive.ai with its Asia operations and the evaluation of the local market for its products.
“We look at Singapore as a country, it’s been a technological juggernaut. When innovations happen in the region, basically they start in Singapore and then move out to other places within the region, whether it’s Indonesia, Vietnam or China,” Tandon told Tech Crunch. “What’s also really interesting to us about Singapore is they have this sort of existential problem here – for them autonomous driving is not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when.’ They have this high population density in a very small physical area, and the extra challenges that go along with that.”
Drive.ai offers a self-driving software that allows autonomous vehicles to learn new driving scenarios and routes through a deep learning-first approach. It is partnering with other businesses to deploy its technology, such as in its recent partnership with Lyft to provide autonomous ridesharing services.