On August 23, Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple engineer, pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from Apple’s automotive department. The trial resulted in some negative attention being heaped upon XPeng Motors. The company is once again in the spotlight as Guangzhi Cao, a former Tesla engineer and former Head of Perception at XPeng Motors, who was also involved in allegations of commercial theft, has joined Pegasus, a Chinese automated driving startup.
According to a report by domestic media outlet AI4Auto, Guangzhi Cao was sued by Tesla shortly after he quit the company and joined XPeng Motors. The latter responded that Cao would subsequently be furloughed. Cao eventually reached a settlement with Tesla and avoided any more legal trouble with the company. Later, after leaving XPeng Motors, Cao went on to become the CTO of Autel Intelligent Tech, a Shenzhen-based A-share listed company, and later joined Pegasus, an automated driving company founded in November 2021.
Although Pegasus was founded shortly, it has attracted Jingao (John) Wang, General Manager of Apollo Autonomous Driving USA and Vice President of Baidu, Zhou Zebin, former director of automated driving at Evergrande Auto, and other well-known experts in the automated driving industry. When Wang announced his joining in March of this year, Pegasus disclosed that the technical team currently had around 100 people. It can be said that it is the fastest growing automated driving startup in 2022.
According to company information, Pegasus focuses on L4-L5 autonomous driving involved in the mobility and transportation sectors. The company provides cross-platform integrated solutions in three major application scenarios: trunk logistics, urban freight transportation and passenger travel. At present, it has set up R&D centers in Shanghai and Shenzhen in China and in Silicon Valley in the US. Seventy percent of the company’s team has been involved in the automotive field for more than 10 years.
Besides talent, capital also favors the firm. Three months after its establishment, the company announced the completion of a large round of angel financing worth several hundred million yuan. Investors included a number of well-known VCs including GL Ventures as the lead investor, and followed by Walden International, V Fund, Green Pine Capital Partners and Country Garden Venture Capital. At present, its financing scale has exceeded 2 billion yuan.
The rapid expansion of Pegasus is closely related to its founder Zhang Wen who is also the chairman and founder of Biren Technology, a chip design company. He used to serve as a senior lawyer and general manager of private equity funds on Wall Street, and has participated in the acquisition of private equity funds totaling $17.6 billion. In addition, he also served as the president of SenseTime giving him a deep understanding of the industry as a whole.
At present, Pegasus has launched full-stack self-developed technologies including multi-sensor pre-fusion technology, multi-modal multi-task neural networks, visual simulation systems, multi-source fusion HD-Mapping and, lastly, autonomous positioning. In March this year, it reached a working agreement with NVIDIA, and its L4-class mass-produced automated driving computing platform will be equipped with NVIDIA’s DRIVE Hyperion.