Your delivery driver may be disappearing sooner than you think. Before you become concerned about the temperature of your incoming pizza, rest assured, companies like Drive.ai have got your back (and maybe your pizza too). We are fast approaching a revolution in the way transportation moves us. This should come as no surprise to anyone. The giants of our time, Google, Uber, Amazon — they are all playing in this space. However, there are some lesser known, soon-to-be massively successful companies growing in Silicon Valley. Drive.ai is a self-driving artificial intelligence company focused on deep learning applications of software and robotics in vehicles—with slick marketing, massive investment, and less controversy than Uber, Drive.ai has had an awesome kickoff.
Driverless car technology will be invested in until it’s perfect. It will fundamentally change everything the car has been for the last hundred years. Personal transportation seems to be changing a lot, and while Drive.ai is more focused on the business fleet end of things, this doesn’t mean they won’t profoundly affect end-users/consumers. Is Drive.ai gearing up to be the next trendsetter in transportation technology? Yes, drive.ai is stepping boldly into a realm of uncharted possibilities.
Drive.ai’s strategy is genius. It’s surprising there aren’t more AI companies focusing where they’re focusing. In an interview, Carol Reily (co-founder and president of Drive.ai) said, “Everybody talks about this magical world where all the cars on the road are self-driving. It’s surprising that the human side has been engineered out of the equation.” The company is going teach it’s self-driving AI to communicate with the pedestrian and regular-driving public. Drive.ai will be distributing retrofit kits to businesses. These kits will include roof-mounted LED panels which use pictures and words to communicate to the outside world.
This is an awesome innovation in the face of otherwise bland proposals and agendas. Yes, cars will drive themselves in the future, but only Drive.ai has stepped into the spotlight with a plan on how to address the human element. Recently, the company secured a $50 million grant from venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA). NEA had previously invested several million into the fledgling company’s early development. In light of some successful public test drives through rainy Mountain View, CA streets, it’s sensible they invested more. The LED roof screens will really set it apart from competitors.
Before we get too into details it’s important to understand a bit more about Carol Reily. Forbes recently characterized her as a brilliant researcher, a woman leader who has “overcome personal and professional challenges to achieve incredible impact”. Reily didn’t start programming until her first year in college, she was nervous about her peers’ years of experience. She almost gave up a few times, but she fostered a talent for the field. Drive. ai’s future president received her Master’s and PhD in Computer Science and Robotics from Johns Hopkins University. She told Forbes, “In the 1800s, companies would hire a VP of Electricity…electricity was the brand-new concept…we see AI in the same way now”. This is kind of direction and conception for which Silicon Valley investors should be looking.
The technology behind AI has already been extremely competitive. Where once there were many companies competing with Drive.ai, a few have already been acquired by much larger ventures. GM bought out Cruise Automation and Uber recently bought out Otto. Both of these buyouts were $1 billion or close. This is a field to watch. Drive.ai will start to dig into business through a reliable means. They will be focusing on retrofit kits for already operating business fleets. These kits will include the roof signs and the robotics deep learning tech to drive the business-provided vehicles. By not manufacturing the vehicles, they are getting a head-start in an insanely competitive marketplace.
In order to help the company along, they’ve taken on some amazing talent. Former GM Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky recently joined the Drive.ai team. Girsky has the type of massive corporate expertise a growing startup like this needs. Another great mind in AI has also joined the team, Andrew Ng the former founder and lead on the Google brain project is now on Drive.ai’s board of directors. It’s tough for start-ups to negotiate Silicon Valley, but with experts like this assessing growth, competition, and asset-building, Drive.ai seems to stand quite a chance.
The future of the automobile is already here. In some ways, we can see successful companies like Uber and Lyft as a stopgap measure between driving ourselves and telling our cars’ AI where to take us. We’ll speak with our AI like we already do with Siri and Alexa. Drive.ai will likely be one of the first companies we hear about finding success as they retrofit business vehicle fleets for companies like Lyft, Uber, and Doordash in the not-too-distant-future.