Hong Kong self-driving start-up AutoX in talks to raise up to US$100 million in funding
- AutoX used its self-driving car to deliver burgers and fries at the CES tech show in Las Vegas
Hong Kong-based autonomous driving start-up AutoX is in talks with investors to raise a new round of funding to finance its research and development into self-driving cars.
The company said it is in talks with investors about a new round of financing, months after the company piloted autonomous grocery delivery services in San Jose, California, in August. Last month, it received its first licence to test-drive self-driving cars in China. AutoX is understood to be looking to raise as much as US$100 million.
The fresh funds will enable AutoX to increase its fleet as tech companies race each other to teach machines how to master driving skills.
Founded in 2016 by Xiao Jianxiong, a former assistant professor of Princeton University also known as “ Professor X ”, the alumnus of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has built the company to “democratise autonomy” and make driverless technology universally accessible.
The company has offices in both the US and China and recently moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Hong Kong. AutoX completed its A round of funding in 2017 and its investors include an investment venture of chip giant MediaTek and SAIC Capital, an investment arm of the state-owned Chinese carmaker.
“Hong Kong is home to a low tax as well as innovative business environment,” Xiao said in an interview at CES tech show in Las Vegas last week, where the company delivered burgers and fries by robo-car. “We aim to build a strong presence in the big bay area.”
AutoX has been offering grocery delivery services in San Jose since August. After downloading an app, users can browse and order items such as vegetables and fruits and have them delivered to their home by a self-driving car.
“The delivery service would enable us to avoid a head-on competition with Waymo, and it also comes with high profit, bringing about US$10 per order,” he said. A self-driving car can deliver an average of 20 orders per day.
Meanwhile, in China, the company is working with carmakers including SAIC and Dongfeng Motor as a technology provider, according to Xiao.
AutoX is among a brace of autonomous driving start-ups that have sprung up in China after the country made smart vehicles one of its key development areas. Its rivals include Pony.ai, WeRide.ai, Roadstar and Momenta, while the likes of TuSimple, Plus-ai and FABU focus on autonomous trucks.
Autonomous driving is an amalgamation of technology, combining advanced consumer and industrial technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and electrification to 5G mobile systems.