Detroit-based Fontinalis Partners is contributing to a $3.6 million seed-funding round for nuTonomy Inc., a developer of advanced software for autonomous vehicles.
“Autonomous vehicle technology will disrupt and redefine the future of urban mobility and transportation,” says Chris Thomas, a founder and partner of Fontinalis, who will join the nuTonomy board of directors. “We feel strongly that nuTonomy’s robust approach to decision-making will position them to be a leading player in this disruption.”
nuTonomy is creating a new technique for autonomous vehicles’ decision-making process based on methods that have been used in the development of spacecraft and airplanes.
“nuTonomy’s vision is to deliver the world’s smartest autonomous vehicle and be the software engine of automated cars,” says Karl Iagnemma, CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy. “By applying advanced techniques from the aerospace industry, we’re creating a self-driving car that is safe, confident, and drives in a truly ‘human-like’ manner.”
Iagnemma says nuTonomy, founded in 2005 with offices in Cambridge, Mass. and Singapore, has built and tested dozens of autonomous vehicle prototypes over the past decade.
nuTonomy co-founder and CTO Emilio Frazzoli directed a public pilot of on-demand automated vehicles in Singapore in 2014, offering residents the opportunity to request driverless transportation throughout the country’s central public park.
Fontinalis, a venture capital firm that strategically focuses on next generation mobility, was co-founded in 2009 by Thomas, Bill Ford Jr., Ralph Booth, Chris Cheever, and Mark Schulz. The firm’s investments include Zagster, a bike sharing and rental company, and ParkMe, an app that provides parking data to navigation providers and mobile platforms, among others.
Last May, Fontinalis invested in the San Francisco-based ridesharing service provider, Lyft, a competitor of Uber.