We are still likely many years away from wide-scale deployment — let alone adoption — of fully autonomous vehicles on our streets, but in the meantime autonomous vehicle companies focusing on closed-campus environments continue to raise funding and make headway in building self-driving on a smaller scale. In the latest, a startup called Venti Technologies is announcing that it has raised $28.8 million, a Series A that it plans to use to continue building out its software, partner with third parties for hardware (that is, vehicles), and to secure more deals.
Its target customer comes from the wide range of supply chain businesses that operate across warehouses, ports and other shipping and logistics environments where vehicles — currently driven by humans — are central to operations. Venti’s bet is that even with the high prices associated with self-driving vehicles, industrial customers will pay because longer term it will pay off for them.
“If you have a big logistics facility where you run vehicles, the largest cost is human capital — drivers,” Heidi Wyle, Venti’s founder and CEO, said in an interview. “Our customers are telling us that they expect to save over 50% of their operations costs with self-driving vehicles. Think they will have huge savings.”
LG Technology Ventures, the VC arm of the LG Group, is leading this round, with Safar Partners, UOB Venture Management, and previous investors Alpha JWC and LDV Partners also participating. Venti last raised $8 million, in the summer of 2021. Valuation is not being disclosed.
Venti is coming at the industrial market having had its fingers burned a little from its initial ambitions in the consumer market, where it worked on SUVs and a robo-taxi strategy, among other things, but discovered that the complexity of the scenarios was ultimately insurmountable.
“What I’ve seen is that “robo-taxi” is an extremely difficult problem to solve,” she said. “All of the chaos of the world is sitting in those city streets. Industrial environments are utterly different. It’s not a sexy space but the global supply chain is huge and it got whacked in Covid. They are still digging themselves out of that and we enable them to work better 1680005468, and if another thing like Covid comes along.”
LG — an industrial giant itself both as a primary business and as a supplier to industrial businesses — is not a strategic partner currently, but Wyle said that this is the long-term hope.
“Venti is solving real-world problems for large customers in huge markets with technology that has proven safe, mature and capable of near-term driverless deployment,” said Anshul Agarwal, MD at LG Technology Ventures, in a statement. “We are impressed not only by the technology, which is more complete and rapidly able to provide value to end customers, but also by the world-class team.”