Autonomous trucking outfit Embark Trucks has raised $70 million in a series C funding round led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from seven other firms, Forbes has reported. The new financing round brings its fundraising total to $117 million.
The company will use the funds to add staff and trucks to its fleet, which is already running commercial loads between Los Angeles and Arizona.
Embark will also open two transfer hubs in or near those two metro areas, where its automated trucks can pick up trailers hauled from nearby cargo distribution centers, according to Forbes.
Five Fortune 500 customers are signed up to use the hubs as part of freight-hauling contracts with the company. (Although Embark Trucks is not identifying those customers, CNBC reported earlier this year that it was hauling freight for Amazon.)
The ideas is that local (human) drivers will drop off freight at the hubs, at which point Embark will inspect the loads before the autonomous big rigs carry the loads across the country.
By adding the transfer hubs, “customers will still have local drivers handling the pick-up of trailers but will be able to access the benefits of self-driving trucks without needing to change anything about the way they do business.” CEO Alex Rodrigues told Forbes.
Embark doesn’t build its own vehicles but instead integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis. The startup joins other new entrants TuSimple, Plus.ai and Starsky Robotics as well as manufacturers including Daimler and Volvo in on-road testing of autonomous big rigs that could eventually remove drivers from behind the wheel of freight haulers.