TDK Ventures invests in scalable driverless transportation startup Faction
TDK Corporation announced that subsidiary TDK Ventures, has invested in scalable driverless transportation startup company, Faction. Through this partnership, TDK Ventures seeks to expedite the development of a low-cost sustainable solution to urban delivery and travel-on-demand markets through Faction's right-sized (three-wheel autocycle) electric vehicle (EV) platform.
Recently graduated from the world-renowned Y-Combinator business incubator, the Faction team had previously launched driverless vehicles ranging from light EVs to full size semi-trucks, combining cumulative decades of experience into the new Faction fleet.
Despite significant progress over the past decade, completely autonomous vehicles remain elusive. Current artificial intelligence software and machine learning algorithms can handle close to 90% of driving scenarios (even more under typical highway conditions). However, the edge cases are still years away from completely turning over the wheel to our technology.
Faction aims to fill that gap with its TeleAssist framework. TeleAssist adapts groundbreaking autonomous technology with supplemental human in the loop supervision, enabling the technology of the future to address the problems we are facing today – not waiting 5 or 10 more years for research. As a result, this process creates a driverless vehicle that is road ready now. TDK Ventures sees a partnership with Faction as an ideal match in both vision and technology.
Nicolas Sauvage, President, TDK Ventures: "A key part of our mission is to progress technology which furthers digital, energy, and environmental transformation. Faction addresses all three in an integrated way that can immediately improve society. They bring a digital approach to a problem in both the energy and sustainability space. We want to bring our own TDK Goodness to the table to expedite their development and see their vision to fruition as quickly as possible."
Faction isn't just a software company; they've designed and developed a fleet of their own from the ground up in partnership with select vehicle manufacturers. The norm in today's industry focuses on converting standard vehicles to autonomous electric vehicles.
Ain McKendrick, CEO, Faction: "Most autonomous projects are taking existing vehicles and trying to retrofit them for driverless technologies. Rather than do the same things over and over again, we took a clean sheet approach from the chassis up."
In building a digital vehicle platform from the ground up with EV and autonomous technology in mind, McKendrick sees the opportunity to optimize and showcase the strengths of the tech instead of being dampened by the constraints driven by a retrofit to legacy vehicles.
Faction brought this vision to fruition by designing their EV system using a three-wheel autocycle (regulated as motorcycles) platform. The company stripped significant load demands from the electric power system and created the next innovation in urban transportation. Their fleet of "right-sized" vehicles can easily navigate the urban landscapes of tomorrow and represent a win from both environmental and energy sustainability perspective, and for the consumer at a price point that can't be beat.
True to their design, Faction's market priorities emphasize leveraging the synergies of autonomy to urban needs. Outlining their vision, they claim "ninety percent of urban trips consist of one passenger traveling fewer than five miles. Using large legacy vehicles is not sustainable from an emissions, gridlock, and energy use perspective. We are right-sizing driverless transportation, making it smart for the city and an affordable solution for the planet." The initial focus is on micro-logistic transformation and becoming the new way for urbanites to get goods to their doorstep.