FiveAI attracts £26.8M to lead UK’s answer to US driverless tech giants

FiveAI, a start-up leading the UK’s charge to build technology for urban driverless vehicles, has closed a major £14M Series A equity financing round, adding to £12.8M in government funding for FiveAI’s consortium-led StreetWise project.

This series A investment is thought to be the largest single venture funding for any European driverless technology start-up to date. The round was accelerated by the grant of £12.8m from the UK government to the StreetWise consortium led by FiveAI.

Lakestar Capital’s Dharmash Mistry, who will join the FiveAI board on completion of the funding round, said: “FiveAI is a fantastic example where the UK has the talent, ambition and market to build a truly successful technology-led company. Dense European cities present totally different technical, behavioural, regulatory and infrastructure challenges to their US and Chinese counterparts for safe urban driverless technologies. By assembling its talented team in the UK and seeking to support London’s transport objectives in partnership with the city itself, FiveAI can play a vital role in reducing congestion, emissions, costs, accidents and journey times, boosting the city economy at the same time.”

Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, said: “Low carbon and self-driving vehicles are the future and the UK has a great opportunity to lead this technology revolution. The Government is determined to ensure the UK becomes the go-to place for the development of the next generation of vehicles as part of our Industrial Strategy.

“Government investment, through our Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, in the StreetWise Consortium has helped FiveAI to attract significant inward investment for a project that will help build on our expertise and reputation in self-driving technology and support our clean growth, low-carbon agenda.”

CEO Stan Boland

Alongside CEO Stan Boland, who has exited his two previous companies for a combined total of over $1bn, FiveAI boasts a growing team of world-leading scientific talent, including academic heavyweights in the fields of computer vision, perception, motion planning and machine learning.

The government and series A funding will enable FiveAI to develop and demonstrate autonomous SAE level 4 urban technology and a model for its use in a novel form of personal mobility service aimed at individuals currently driving some or all of their daily commute. FiveAI is targeting 2019 to launch a supervised trial of a pilot fleet of autonomous vehicles on London roads. The trial will show that the technology is now sufficiently mature to be safe in urban environments and sufficiently intelligent to co-exist with human drivers, road users and pedestrians. The StreetWise project will also demonstrate how this technology can be used to build compelling service offers to recover commuting time, reduce commuting costs, cut accident rates, reduce congestion and lower emissions. Streetwise is partnering with Transport for London (TfL) to ensure its service offering is always aligned to public transportation needs.

“London has one of the best public transport systems in the world,” said FiveAI co-founder and CEO, Stan Boland. “Cycling, walking, buses and trains offer a great service for most commuters, but some journeys are still being served by personal or individual transport. Initially we’ll target these journeys with our shared mobility solution which will also pave the way for potential large-scale autonomous public transport in the future. In the short term, from day one of service launch the StreetWise project will increase public transport usage, reduce congestion and emissions, and make our urban areas more liveable for all.”