Hot off a $31 million fundraising round, the self-driving taxi startup Voyage says it’s found a surprising group of consumers — senior citizens living in retirement communities — as it moves toward commercialization.
“All we hear is how tough mobility is for them,” co-founder and CEO Oliver Cameron told Cheddar. He said the company’s emphasis is on commercializing as quickly as possible, even if that means starting with 25-mile-an-hour-or-less speeds.
That seems to be a palatable option in some of the areas where the company has begun operating. Voyage has forged partnerships with retirement communities where there are slower and less-trafficked roads, as well as a population who may need more help than the general public to get around.
“What we’re really doing is partnering with communities — retirement communities — where we can deliver a door-to-door service that serves these senior citizens,” he explained.
Voyage has now raised $52 million since it spun out of the online education company Udacity in 2017. (Udacity had begun efforts to train self-driving car engineers).
With the new funding, Cameron said Voyage will be “growing our team of self-driving experts. We’ve managed to recruit a whole bunch of world-class engineers from great companies in this space.”
“We are going to ... ready our technology for commercialization. That means real people using our service every single day, paying for rides in a self-driving car. And then we’re also going to introduce our [entirely-electric] third-generation vehicle,” he added.
When asked whether Voyage is in talks with any large companies, Cameron said: “When you’re building a self-driving car company today, you get to utilize this thriving ecosystems of other companies. We build the full self-driving technology, which means that we take everything from a sensor reading to an intelligent action on the vehicle.’
“But we do speed up our development by partnering with a bunch of great companies in the world of simulation, mapping, sensors, and a few other [areas],” he added.