Ford Autonomic Unit Teams With Startup Developing Routes Software For Self-Driving Cars

Posted by at 12:26 pm on June 15, 2018

Startup RideOS said Friday that it has raised $9 million led by venture firm Sequoia Capital and reached a partnership with a division of Ford Motor Co. Started by two former Uber Technologies Inc. employees, RideOS plans to sell software that gives routes and other dispatching instructions to fleets of autonomous cars. Add RideOS to a mounting list of companies competing to create markets around the nascent technology, which continues to reel in investment.

Most of these companies are building tools to make driverless cars a reality. RideOS, based in San Francisco, is aiming for the future when they are on the roads and need to navigate p hysical hurdles. When a car encounters road construction, for example, the software would warn others in the fleet, or it could call for a small sedan in some circumstances and a bigger car in another.

“It’s kind of like an air traffic control center for all of these different vehicles,” said RideOS co-founder Justin Ho in a statment. “That entire [operating system] hasn’t been built. It’s just green field.”

Ho spent three years on corporate development for Uber’s mapping and autonomous driving division, where he met his co-founder, Chris Blumenberg, an Apple Inc. software veteran. For an initial partner, the pair picked Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford. Autonomic makes back-end software connecting cars to other devices, letting someone unlock a vehicle with a mobile app, for instance. Autonomic and RideOS plan to produce a software product together, although they have not said when.

The partnership gives Ford another toehold into transit services, a market it has tried to enter. In the race to create robot taxi services, the automaker lags behind General Motors and Google affiliate Waymo in investment but remains confident in its approach.

RideOS expects to work with several more automakers as well as ride-hailing services. Like Waze, the popular driving navigation app, the startup can benefit from a “network effect,” said Mike Vernal, the Sequoia Capital partner who led the investment. The more cars that use its routing and dispatching service, the better the offering becomes.

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