UPDATED 22:32 EST / OCTOBER 18 2018


Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Momenta raises money on $1B valuation

Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Momenta has raised new funding on a unicorn valuation of $1 billion.

Although the amount raised was not disclosed, the company, formally known as Beijing Chusudu Technology Co. Ltd., said it has now raised “more than $200 million” to date.

Momenta had raised $51 million in total as of its last round in July 2017. Investors in the new round included Tencent, China Merchants Group and CCB International.

Founded in 2016, Momenta is developing software that uses big data and artificial intelligence for perception, semantic high-definition mapping and path planning for self-driving vehicles.

In a media release Wednesday, Momenta said it had undergone three phases of development in the last two years, first establishing big-data and computing platforms, then developing deep-learning algorithms as foundation for perception, high-definition semantic mapping, and planning and control, and finally developing multilevel, mass-production autonomous driving solutions for highway and urban scenarios.

For its next phase, Momenta has formed a strategic partnership with the government of Suzhou, China, that will see it deploy a large-scale test fleet to accelerate its Level 4 autonomous driving development and support the government in building smart transportation systems.

The company does have some U.S. heritage. Founder Cao Xudong is a former scientist at Microsoft Research, with support from a range of computer scientists such as Yan Xia, who previously worked at Microsoft Corp. on the image search technology used in its Bing search engine.

Momenta is now China’s first autonomous vehicle unicorn, leading efforts by the Middle Kingdom to catch up with American high-tech prowess as part of the Made in China 2025 program.

Although it’s not a well-known company, its technology is considered impressive by those who would know. Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Sequoia Capital both participated in Momenta’s previous round, a strong vote of confidence.

Image: Momenta

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