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The top VC investors in autonomous vehicle tech

August 27, 2019
In recent years, investors in Silicon Valley and beyond have been pumping more cash than ever into the sci-fi idea of self-driving cars. But modern companies like Tesla and Google are not pioneers of the autonomous vehicle. Rather, they are advancing an 80-year-old prototype.

For the 1939 New York World's Fair, General Motors sponsored an exhibit titled Futurama, which was developed by industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes. Futurama featured a futuristic city with congestion-free highways, and the star of the exhibit was Bel Geddes' prototype of a self-driving car. In his 1940 book, "Magic Motorways," Bel Geddes explained how such cars were intended to "correct the faults of human beings as drivers"—a goal that modern-day autonomous carmakers and the investors behind them continue to aspire toward. 
 
The autonomous vehicle vertical raked in $10.3 billion worldwide in VC financing across 146 deals in 2018, per PitchBook data. Momentum has slowed slightly, with investors having funneled $3.2 billion into 64 deals so far this year:


 

Leading autonomous-vehicle deals is Trucks Venture Capital. True to its name, the San Francisco-based firm focuses on transportation investments, and has closed 17 deals for self-driving cars since 2010, according to PitchBook data. Trucks Venture Capital has invested in autonomous vehicle developer May Mobility, autonomous truck developer Starsky Robotics and Quadric, which provides an edge computing software.

Also investing from the Bay Area, Toyota AI Ventures has made 12 deals in the vertical since 2010. The investment arm of the legendary Japanese automaker raised $100 million for its second fund in May.

Here are the top 11 VCs (excluding accelerators) funding autonomous vehicle technology:
 
In addition to industry-specific investors, traditional VCs including New Enterprise Associates and Sequoia China have also made significant investments in the vertical.

Featured image via the-lightwriter/iStock/Getty Images Plus 

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