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China-based autonomous driving company Momenta receives a new round of funding at a valuation over $1B

Momenta, a China-based autonomous driving company, has secured a new round of funding from industry-leading strategic investors and government funds at a valuation north of $1 billion, making Momenta the first autonomous driving unicorn company in China.

Existing investor NIO Capital and Pagoda Investment increased their investments. Strategic investors, including Tencent, government funds from Shanghai and Suzhou, China Merchants Group, and CCB International participated in this round.

Earlier, Momenta announced the close of a $46-million round of B-1 funding led by NIO Capital, a B-2 round led by Cathay Capital, an A round led by Shunwei Capital, as well as angel investment from Blue Lake Capital, Sinovation Ventures and Zhen Fund. Since its inception, Momenta has attracted investment totaling more than $200 million.

Founded in September 2016, Momenta is building intelligent systems for autonomous driving, aiming to provide solutions for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs.

In the past two years, Momenta has undergone three phases of development: Phase 1 - Establish big data and computing platforms; Phase 2 - Develop deep-learning algorithms as foundation for Perception, HD Semantic Mapping, and Planning & Control; and Phase 3 - Develop multi-level autonomous driving solutions for mass production for highway and urban scenarios.

—Momenta CEO Xudong Cao

This year, Momenta also formed strategic partnership with the government of Suzhou, where the company will deploy a large-scale test fleet to accelerate its Level 4 autonomous driving development and support the government in building smart transportation systems. Momenta has expanded its business to international OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.

Momenta has world-class deep learning experts, including the authors of the most advanced image recognition frameworks, Faster R-CNN and ResNet, and winners of ImageNet 2015, ImageNet 2017, MS COCO Challenge and many other competitions. The team has grown significantly within the past two years with 80% of the Momenta team being researchers and developers.

Momenta positions itself as a Tier 2 software provider and aims to build the brains for self-driving cars. In this setup, the vehicle is considered the “body”; the on-board vehicles sensors represent the “eyes & ears”; and software which provides path-planning and control based on information produced by perception constitutes the brain, which Momenta will provide to automotive Tier 1 suppliers for OEM customers.

The key to achieve autonomous driving is ensuring extremely high level of safety and reliability. Momenta addresses this problem by creating and utilizing a closed feedback loop of big data, AI and solutions. Momenta has independently developed a whole set of deep-learning based software in perception, HD semantic mapping, and data-driven path planning, which enables the realization of full autonomy.

With the data collected from its own crowd-sourcing channels, Momenta developed its deep-learning algorithms for perception, HD Semantic Map and planning.

Momenta has developed multi-level autonomous driving solutions for both aftermarket and pre-installation (OE) market:

  • AutoRing: Momenta’s aftermarket ADAS product: AutoRing is equipped with one camera facing the driver and a second road-facing camera. The system provides active safety functions and fleet management services.

  • Mpilot: Momenta’s Level 3 pre-installation solution for series production: Based on affordable low-cost sensors such as camera and radar sensors, and integration of our HD Map, the system aims to provide the ultimate “mind-free hands-free” autonomous driving experience on freeways and urban expressways.

  • Momenta Valet Parking (MVP): A Level 4 valet parking solution for series production: MVP is able to achieve Level 4 autonomous driving in parking garages combining our vision-based perception and HD Map technologies. With mass-production in-vehicle sensors, Momenta is able to achieve centimeter-level mapping and localization accuracy.

  • Momenta L4 Urban Autonomous Driving (M4U): Momenta’s Level 4 urban autonomous driving solution: M4U aims at providing autonomous mobility for everyone.

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