Berlin-based Vay has raised $95 million in a Series B funding round. The company currently specialises in teledriven services, but this is only part of a much bigger picture. The funding will help Vay launch its first fleet in Hamburg in 2022, as well as triple the team size, with a heavy focus on engineering roles.
While not quite the fully autonomous vehicle fleet that we’ve all been looking forward to (or not), Vay is moving the needle in that direction with its teledriven technologies. Vay’s cars are supported by a human driver located in a remote location, e.g. teledriven.
Starting in 2022, Hamburgers will have the ability to order up a ride, with a teledriver delivering the car to the customer within a few minutes. From there, it’s up to the customer to drive themselves to their chosen destination, but upon arrival, forget about finding a place to park, as a Vay teledriver will then resume control of the car and either parks it or carries on to the next customer.
While a valuable offer in itself, what’s more interesting is how Vay is simultaneously providing a consumer service, but also feeding the machine. In so much, the holy grail of fully self-driving cars, and the associated algorithms powering them, require tonnes and tonnes of data input. Data that Vay is gathering.
Vay’s teledrivers already have augmented tools at their fingertips including 360-degree vision through a series of cameras, all with relevant pedestrians, cyclists, and/or cars highlighted on the video stream. I.e. a continual feed of real-world driving scenarios. Combining these tools with input from customer drivers gives the company an enormous amount of data to plug into its fully autonomous driving technologies.
While teledriven for now, don’t expect Vay’s fully self-driven fleet to be too far off, as the company has already indicated that fully autonomous technologies will be introduced over time, once fully tested, vetted, and proven to be safe.
The main participants in Vay’s $95 million Series B funding round include new investors Kinnevik, Coatue, and Eurazeo, with existing investors Atomico, La Famiglia, and Creandum continuing their support. Project A, Visionaries Club and signals Venture Capital also participated in the round, as well as former Google CFO Patrick Pichette, and Spotify board member, and Zalando board chair Cristina Stenbeck.
On the investment, Kinnevik’s Natalie Tydeman commented, “Driverless transportation is potentially the biggest and most positive change in mobility in our generation. Thomas, Fabrizio, Bogdan, and the rest of the Vay team are pioneers in this industry, combining a visionary and pragmatic approach, with a strong mission to increase the safety and sustainability of transportation.”