Solo Advanced Vehicle Technologies, a vehicle hardware company in the freight transportation industry, has received $7 million in seed funding led by Trucks VC with participation from Maniv Mobility and Wireframe Ventures. Solo is building the first ground-up heavy truck platform to be compatible with any autonomous driving software, thereby solving the inefficiency of retrofitting existing, human-centric trucks for autonomous driving.
“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,” says Graham Doorley, Solo’s founder and CEO. “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.”
The financing will be used to build out Solo’s engineering team as the company expands at its new headquarters in Fremont, Calif. The team will finalize the design and build Solo’s first test vehicle – a battery-electric Class 8 truck that will begin testing in 2022. The test vehicle will inform the design and engineering of Solo’s alpha truck, the SD1 Heavy, a process that will also advance this year.
“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 ten years,” states Jeffrey Schox, general partner of 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’s team gained early experience on the Tesla Model S, Model 3 and Tesla Semi teams, as well as served as founding leaders on the autonomous truck project within Waymo; further, the team shares decades of experience at OEMs and in the autonomy industry. With its alpha truck, the SD1 Heavy, Solo is rethinking every facet of a truck platform. A clean sheet design affords the platform cutting edge, 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. With the first, fully redundant architecture for an autonomous, Class 8 truck, the SD1 Heavy will be compatible with any autonomous software.
“Solo has the opportunity this decade to transform how we move goods cleaner and more safely,” adds Schox. “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.”
“A global supply chain crisis has underscored the need for transformation in the trucking industry,” comments Michael Granoff, managing partner at Maniv Mobility. “Solo is the first serious effort to look beyond the horizon to a moment, not far off, when the most efficient, cleanest truck platform that can safely ‘drive,’ changes the course of a hundred-year-old industry.”