Self-Driving Tech Startup QCraft Secures Round-B1 Financing

QCraft, a Beijing-based provider of autonomous driving solutions, announced on December 2 its completion of a B1 round of financing worth several hundred million yuan. Investors in this round include a fund under CICC Capital, domestic electronics firm TCL, and a leading chip enterprise. The funding was followed by QCraft’s existing investor, Genesis Capital. The raised funds will be used to accelerate mass production of the company’s advanced assisted driving products and the large-scale implementation of robobuses.

QCraft was established in 2019. The four co-founders, including CEO Yu Qian, CTO Hou Cong, Chief Scientist Da Fang and COO Wang Kun, all worked in different fields at Waymo, an autonomous driving subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

QCraft deployed Longzhou One – its self-developed autonomous minibus – to form the new fleet providing on-demand bus sharing services for residents in Wuxi. (Source: QCraft)

QCraft provides unmanned solutions for vehicle models that can be mass produced and have the capability of automatic driving technology, covering multiple open application scenarios in complex urban traffic scenarios. At present, in terms of vehicle-mounted software, hardware and data automation closed loop, the firm has a number of core technologies developed by itself in the whole stack.

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Since its establishment, QCraft has focused on robobuses and is now one of the leading players in China. In July, 2020, a batch of QCraft Robobuses made its debut in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province and carried out trial operations of several unmanned scenes in the city. In October of the same year, the company carried out China’s first urban open-roads robobus project in Suzhou, also starting the normal operation of robobuses in several cities, providing convenient bus services for short-distance commutes.

The firm’s robobuses have been tested and operated in 10 cities, including Suzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Beijing, Wuxi and Jiaxing. In September this year, QCraft joined hands with T3 Go, a ride-hailing platform, and officially launched the public operation of robotaxis in Suzhou.

This year, the global capital market for autonomous driving continues to be in a dip. The bankruptcy of prominent firm Argo AI caused violent shocks in the industry, and the valuation of leading autonomous driving company Waymo also dropped from the highest figure $175 billion to $30 billion. Moreover, leading lidar company IBEO has filed for bankruptcy. However, it is still too early to say that the end of autonomous driving has arrived. While the early players abruptly quit, new players are accelerating their development, especially in the Chinese market.

On November 28, three autonomous driving companies, including Freetech, Hongjing Drive and SemiDrive announced the completion of new rounds of financing. Incomplete statistics show that from the end of October to mid-November of this year, there were more than 40 deals related to intelligent driving in China, with accumulated financing amounts exceeding 10 billion yuan ($1.42 billion), covering autonomous driving solutions, chips and lidars.