Autonomous driving startup PhiGent Robotics announced on December 1 its completion of round-A+ financing worth tens of millions of dollars, led by Xiang He Capital and followed by INCE Capital. In addition, AMD’s former global vice president, Shan Yi, has officially joined as a co-founder and the CEO of the startup, which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
PhiGent Robotics, founded in August 2021, is a provider of next-generation autonomous driving solutions with visual 3D sense as the core. This was the fifth round of financing completed since its establishment. Other investors include Atypical Ventures, 5Y Capital, GSR Ventures, Shenzhen Capital Group, and Horizon Robotics, an automatic driving chip company, and more. PhiGent Robotics now has over 200 employees located in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou.
Shan Yi, a new member of PhiGent Robotics, co-founded DeePhi Tech, an artificial intelligence chip company. In 2018, DeePhi Tech was acquired by Xilinx, the world’s largest field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip manufacturer, for $300 million in cash. In February this year, Xilinx was acquired by US chip design giant AMD for nearly $50 billion, and Shan began to serve as the global vice president of AMD, responsible for the development and implementation of AI projects.
Shan was also the technical team leader for Horizon Robotics’ FPGA. After joining PhiGent Robotics, Shan will be responsible for strategic planning, financing, commercialization and other business areas.
PhiGent Robotics provides auto manufacturers with mass-produced autonomous driving solutions, including L2 assisted driving and advanced L2+ assisted driving.
Unmanned or automatic driving can be divided into categories spanning from L0 to L5, in which L2 is auxiliary driving, requiring the driver to take over the vehicle at any time. L2+ is a new trend driven by Tesla since 2020. This category adds an “automatic navigation assistance” function to high-speed and urban settings. In most cases, the vehicle will drive automatically, but it still requires drivers to take over at any time.
PhiGent Robotics said that one of their L2 driving assistance schemes began mass production in October this year. The EV models equipped with this scheme have sold tens of thousands of units. The company believes that L2’s opportunity comes from the increasing penetration rate of assisted driving and the pursuit of higher cost performance.
Shan said that the solution provided by PhiGent Robotics is more cost-effective than some existing major suppliers, because the core team has made automatic driving chips and can deploy the algorithm with high accuracy based on a chip with low computing power. The team also knows how to cooperate with manufacturers of different links, such as sensors, chips and domain controllers. This is exactly what car companies are looking for.
When it comes to the L2+ market, PhiGent Robotics provides a relatively new solution of taking binocular camera as the main sensor, and setting algorithms that can understand 3D information as the core. The binocular camera does not need to know what the object is in advance to obtain more accurate 3D information about the object. Shan believes that L2+ high-level assisted driving can be realized in the future using only cameras, which will reduce the cost of intelligent driving systems.