Self-driving startup Robotic Research said today that it has raised $228 million from investors including SoftBank. The funds will be used to scale up its commercial division’s solutions for trucks, buses and logistics vehicles.
The fundraising round also included an investment from Luminar Technologies, which makes lidar sensors used in self-driving cars.
Robotic Research has been working on a variety of military applications for the U.S. Department of Defense for 20 years, including self-driving road clearing vehicles used in Afghanistan, and an autonomous shuttle for wounded soldiers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
The company also runs “platooning” cargo services – where driverless trucks follow a lead truck at a set distance on highways – for the U.S. Army.
Lacaze said his company’s work for the military has involved operating in “edge case” areas that are dusty, where there is no GPS, no road markings or any well-defined roads at all – experience that other autonomous technology companies lack.
“We feel very confident moving to the commercial side where most of our competitors have been working in very prescribed areas,” he said.
In the next year, RR.AI will deploy autonomous vehicles for Canada’s logging industry and a number of agricultural vehicles. The company is also working on pilot projects using “yard dogs”, or trucks used in distribution yards.