Solo secures seed funding for autonomous heavy truck platform

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Solo Advanced Vehicle Technologies, a California-based company working on autonomous driving technology, has secured US$7m in seed funding led by Trucks VC. The firm is building a ground-up heavy truck platform intended to be compatible with any autonomous driving software, thereby solving what it says is the inefficiency of retrofitting existing, human-centric trucks for autonomous driving. The company hopes to use the funding to extend its development team and finalize the design and build its first test vehicle – a battery-electric Class 8 truck that will begin testing in 2022. The test mule will inform the design and engineering of Solo’s alpha truck, the SD1 Heavy.

“At Solo, we believe that modern technology requires a modern platform, yet the autonomous trucks already being deployed today are forced to combine advanced autonomous software with antiquated vehicles. By delivering a purpose-built heavy truck platform that is software agnostic we will materially change the future of the freight transportation sector and enable the growth and efficiency that the global supply chain demands,” said Graham Doorley, founder and CEO, Solo Advanced Vehicle Technologies.

“Our team has decades of experience understanding the opportunities for autonomous trucking, and has seen first-hand the limitations of the existing platforms. We are uniquely primed to tackle this market and, with the early support of committed investors, we’re excited to build the future of freight.”

With its alpha truck, the SD1 Heavy, Solo is aiming to rethink every facet of truck design, looking to incorporate features such as active aerodynamics coupled with a proprietary, battery-electric powertrain. The SD1 Heavy will feature stabilized and optimized placement of sensors that is not possible with legacy trucks.

“Logistics is often where transportation innovation begins. We’ve seen this time and again in our investing history and yet, autonomous cars have been a larger focus for the on-road market in the last 10 years,” said Jeffrey Schox, General Partner, Trucks VC.

“When I was a young engineer working on GM’s first electric vehicle, I don’t think I could have imagined a world of zero-emission, automated trucks. Solo has the opportunity this decade to transform how we move goods cleaner and more safely. The investor syndicate that Graham and his team have brought together at this seed stage will be essential for Solo’s future financial strategy, IP portfolio, and technical success. This is a global opportunity and it’s important to have such a strong early group to support Solo as the company takes these next vital steps.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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