Navya handbrake on autonomous driving, less hyped area

2020 was supposed to be a benchmark year for autonomous vehicles, writes Bloomberg, and two years have already passed. The world inherited a health crisis, and the so-called car of the future was left in the garage.

For Lyon-based startup Navya and its Shuttle autonomous shuttle project, the news is also deadlocked. A user who wants to know about the company’s Evo car is redirected to another page.

Navya no longer convinces investors

And this one takes you not into the future of self-driving, but into a less rosy gift for the company. Navya reports that on January 25 it filed an application for the termination of payments with the Commercial Court of Lyon.

Indeed, a company cannot rely on the stock market and its shares to raise sufficient funds “to enable it to meet all its cash needs. Moreover, all attempts to support it with the help of investors have failed.”

For Navya, which raised €30 million in 2016, bankruptcy administration is now on the horizon. The French company filed a corresponding request with the arbitration court. This procedure is equivalent to postponing the search for solutions.

However, the future for the startup that pioneered B2B autonomous driving is very uncertain. Investors and venture capital in difficult economic conditions are cautious.

Race for autonomy in slow motion

This reluctance is reflected in declining fundraising and company valuations, a phenomenon that technology has not escaped, as reflected in GAFAM’s layoff plans.

What’s more, among the 12,000 shipments announced by Alphabet (Google), a portion will involve its subsidiary Waymo and its autonomous driving activities. Some see this as a consequence of the economic situation, but also questions about the timing of bringing these technologies to market.

While commercial deployments have taken place, they remain limited. Without scaling, it seems difficult to make profitable the large investments made in the development of autonomous driving systems.

Before full autonomy (level 5), manufacturers should already have time to truly industrialize level 3 or semi-autonomy. These are certain functions delegated to the machine.

Investors are wary of innovation

Thus, in Europe, the news about autonomous driving is mainly focused on experiments. And for automakers, the priority, of course, is the electrification of the fleet.

On the part of network operators such as Keolis and Transdev, the challenge at the moment is also the development of electricity, even if they have been testing autonomous shuttles for several years.

As for venture capital, the current global situation prompts it to be wary of disruptive technologies. This also applies to Web3 and the metaverse, areas where investors prefer more mature technologies.

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