Even though Uber Technologies recently abandoned its self-driving truck program, a company started by individuals with ties to Otto, the self-driving technology company acquired by Uber, and Google’s self-driving car team, has received financial backing to continue the development of systems that will allow trucks to be retrofitted to drive autonomously.
Kodiak Robotics, founded in April by Don Burnette and Paz Eshel, said it has raised $40 million from a group of venture capital investment firms, including Battery Ventures, CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures.
“This financing, coming just three months after founding Kodiak Robotics, is a huge validation for our vision,” Burnette said in a statement Aug. 7. “We believe self-driving trucks will likely be the first autonomous vehicles to support a viable business model, and we are proud to have the support of such high-profile investors to help us execute on our plan.”
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Kodiak, based in Mountain View, Calif., will use the money from investors to expand its staff and for product development, the company said in a statement. Some 20 job openings were listed on Kodiak’s website.
The timeline for development of the self-driving truck technology, which uses a combination of sensors, radar, cameras and computers to control the vehicle, was not made clear.
The company is hoping to help usher in a new age of longhaul trucking, which is experiencing both record freight and a driver shortage.
Burnette, Kodiak’s CEO, co-founded the self-driving technology company Otto, which was acquired by Uber in 2016. He left Uber in March, and founded Kodiak with Eshel, who worked as a vice president at Battery Ventures and led the company’s autonomous vehicle investment project.
One of Battery’s investments was in a drone-technology startup named Dronomy, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. That business was later absorbed by SiteAware, a company that uses drones to monitor activity on building projects.
After news of Kodiak’s financing, Uber announced plans to double its investment in Uber Freight and rehire former executive Lior Ron, another Otto co-founder, to run the load-matching business. Uber announced on July 31 that its Advanced Technologies Group would end development on the company’s self-driving truck program.