Chiratae, JITO, others back self-driving vehicle startup Minus Zero
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Self-driving vehicle platform Minus Zero Robotics Pvt. Ltd on Monday said it has raised seed funding of $1.7 million (around Rs 13 crore) led by Chiratae Ventures. 

The round also saw participation from JITO Angel Network, a few angel investors, auto industry professionals and senior executives from Silicon Valley-based firms Nvidia and Lyft. 

The platform plans to use the fresh capital to build its research and development (R&D) infrastructure focused on autonomous vehicles. It is also looking for team expansion to help expedite the launch of its products, which is slated for late 2022 or early 2023.  

Founded in 2021 by Gagandeep Reehal and Gursimran Kalra, Minus Zero had raised an undisclosed sum in a pre-seed round last September.

It aims to produce fully autonomous vehicles similar to what global tech companies such as Tesla and Google’s Waymo make. The startup also leverages AI to resolve bottlenecks faced by tech companies that are trying to manufacture autonomous vehicles for Indian roads.   

"With multiple patents in the pipeline, our proprietary approach towards self-driving mimics human intuition giving the software an ability to gain confident insights even with lesser data inputs. This enables robust decision making, which is crucial for safe navigation in scenarios where extrinsic factors like poor traffic infrastructure, rash driving, harsh weather, etc. would have otherwise compromised the safety of the vehicle,” said Gagandeep Reehal, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Minus Zero.   

Minus Zero said its software can make decisions based on camera-only sensors and doesn’t require expensive LiDAR sensors or high-fidelity maps.   

“Autonomous vehicles (AV) are no more a thing of the future and need to become a reality now. Scaling AV adoption beyond the current limited usage in specific cities and high-end cars requires a reimagination beyond relying on expensive technologies like Lidar and training over millions of hours of data.  

Further, in emerging markets like India with difficult and unstructured driving conditions, the approach to AV needs to be novel and specifically tailored,” said TCM Sundaram, Founder and Vice Chairman of Chiratae Ventures. 

“The Minus Zero team brings a fresh approach to AV and builds for mass adoption in entry and mid-level cars and emerging markets. We are excited to partner with them to create an industry-leading standard that leads the way to making this technology commercially viable for consumers,” he added. 

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