Waymo's truck, Avis partnership. Anthony Levandowski's $120M bonus. Nissan plans AV ride-hailing service.
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After graduating from Alphabet's X lab last December, Waymo has added Lyft and now rental giant Avis as new partners in its self-driving effort. Both collaborations are in their infancy, but represent potential consumer touchpoints for Waymo's AV products.

The Avis deal specifically would offload key responsibilities and capital demands for the ownership and operation of a vehicle fleet. Basic mechanical upkeep, which Avis is well-versed in, was cited as a major factor in Waymo's deal.

Shared AVs are often touted for their potential to reduce vehicle ownership by increasing vehicle utilization, but vehicle wear would rise correspondingly (indeed, Waymo CEO John Krafcik acknowledged this point when discussing the Avis deal).

The initial agreement is a small one for Waymo's Phoenix trial, but Avis's sprawling network of parking real estate and other logistical assets could be valuable for a nationwide AV deployment (the company has also owned car-sharing service Zipcar since 2013).

Overall, fleet operator partnerships are a natural extension of tech players like Google and Apple scaling back and refocusing their automotive efforts around core strengths (and healthier margins) in, well, tech. Commercial fleet owners are also a logical target for AV retrofitting startups like, the Stanford spinout that raised $50M this week.

After all, the oft-repeated mantra is that vehicle manufacturing and operation are complex enterprises where profits must be fished from a sea of fixed costs.

Advancing manufacturing

Although mobility newcomers are distancing themselves from these messy asset-heavy disciplines, automakers old and new continue pursuing ways to optimize for productivity and cost efficiency on production lines.

Our 71-page advanced manufacturing webinar dives into the emerging technologies, startups, and corporate players looking to revolutionize heavy industry. We spotlighted companies like on-demand manufacturing platform Xometry, which BMW and GE's venture arms just funded to the tune of $15M.

We're also seeing the resurgence of 3D printing startups targeting industrial fields, after the technology largely flopped with consumers. Automakers like BMW and the PSA Group are actively tracking companies offering metalworking and auto body applications.

Tesla has emphasized rethinking its manufacturing and supply chain processes to achieve its 2020 production target of 1 million vehicles (up from roughly 84,000 last year). It spent over $100M to acquire automated engineering firm Grohmann for its Model 3 production effort.

We also captured a patent application from Tesla today describing a heat-recovering oven system outfitted with a conveyer belt.

One application of this might be the conveyor-driven ovens used in automotive paintshops. The paint drying process is often the most energy-intensive process in the entire vehicle production line, so any efficiency gains here would have a sizeable overall impact.

We've also linked Tesla executives to a materials recycling and remanufacturing initiative called Redwood. While not explicitly tied to Tesla, Redwood's mission appears complimentary to that of the EV maker and other manufacturers fighting for margin in heavy industry.


IIoT and advanced manufacturing webinar

The "smart factory" of tomorrow is being built today with sensors, industrial robotics, and 3D printing. See the 71-page report.
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Auto tech and logistics patent watch

We use CB Insights' patent search engine to track recent publications from Google, Uber, Ford, Tesla, and moreCheck out the patents.
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The state of automation report

We used US BLS data to compile a list of occupations from nursing to trucking and analyzed their level of risk from automation. Download the report.
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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Deals & Funds
ChargePoint raises another $43M. Including this round from Siemens, the EV charging company has raised $125M total for its Series G.
PE Hub raises $50M. NEA, GGV, other return investors backing company's self-driving retrofit kits and fleet strategy. Former Baidu AI head Andrew Ng joined the company's board, and has launched a new deep learning venture.
TechCrunch ( / TechCrunch (Andrew Ng)

Swift Navigation raises $36M. NEA, First Round, and Eclipse invest in the global navigation satellites solution company. 

Autotalks raises $40M. Toyota, Sumitomo join latest round to mass produce the vehicle-to-X hardware. 

Xometry receives $15M. BMW iVentures led the round in the online marketplace for customized manufacturing.

Parkbees raises $12M. Tencent led the round to the Chinese parking and EV charging network app.
China Money Network

Cabin raises $3M. FF Angel led the seed round into the hospitality transportation company. 
PE Hub

Homer Logistics raises $8.5M. Two Sigma Ventures led the round for the local delivery services company that hires its workers as W-2 employees.
Wall Street Journal

Car360 raises $3.55M. Mark Cuban, BIP Capital invested in the car visualization AR platform. 
PE Hub

Upstream Security grabs $2M. Glilot, Maniv Mobility back the Israeli autonomous and connected car cybersecurity startup.

Best Inc seeks US IPO. The Chinese logistics company previously raised $750M from CITIC Private Equity, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, China Development Bank, and Goldman Sachs.

Takata files for bankruptcy. The airbag producer's viable operations will be purchased for $1.6B by Detroit-based Key Safety Systems.

LeEco cash crunch continues. Despite raising $2.2B earlier this year, LeEco still has not paid back its $15B debt. The company is consolidating non-listed units in the next quarter to help resolve the problem.

Tesla considering own music streaming service. The electric car company is in talks with music labels about licensing music.

Uber updates. Despite resigning last week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick still remains on the board and owns over 30% of the company. The ridesharing company has also held multiple talks with the SEC about giving drivers equity in the company. Waymo-Uber case details indicate Uber should have raised red flags during its Otto diligence; Google alleges Levandowski may have used stolen documents as leverage in a $120M (!!!) bonus dispute.
The Information (Kalanick) / Axios (SEC) / Gizmodo (Waymo-Uber)

Tech, rental car companies partner. Avis will service and maintain Waymo's driverless fleet, while Apple will lease Lexus SUVs from Hertz for AV testing.
Bloomberg (Waymo-Avis) / Bloomberg (Apple-Hertz)

Waymo activity. Waymo hired Tesla engineer Satish Jeyachandran to hardware development and sensor integration. Meanwhile, a Waymo truck was spotted, and the company has started testing its vans in Death Valley.
Bloomberg (Jeyachandran) / Jalopnik (truck) / TechCrunch (Death Valley)

Nissan-Renault plans driverless ridehailing service. Its Driverless EVs are to be deployed between 2020 and 2027.

Volvo, Autoliv, Nvidia partner. Volvo and Autoliv's Zenuity joint venture will use Nvidia's Drive PX platform, and is aiming to field self-driving car for sale by 2021. 

Honda hit by WannaCry. Automakers among those affected by the second wave of the WannaCry cyberattack, with a Honda plant shutting down.
Supply Chain Dive

Pearl Automation shuts down. After raising $50M for its aftermarket rear-view camera, Pearl has closed its doors.

Congress debates autonomous legislature. 14 bills are up for debate. 

Automation in the Midwest. Wisconsin becomes the third state to allow delivery robots on crosswalks and sidewalks. MCity launches driverless shuttles at the University of Michigan. 
Fortune (Wisconsin) / Detroit Free Press (Michigan)

Articles & Perspectives
Autonomous vehicles study. The Department of Homeland Security published its study on risks and issues for autonomous vehicles.  
Department of Homeland Security

Truckers working with coders. Max Chafkin and Josh Eidelson take a look at the truckers working with Starsky Robotics, the startup working on trucking teleoperation and automation.

The future according to Elon Musk. Tom Randall publishes an interactive graphic of Elon Musk's goals. 

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