Posted on August 20, 2018 by staff

Autonomous vehicle start-up smashes funding in six hours


Founded at the University of Aberystwyth, electric autonomous vehicle start-up the Academy of Robotics has closed its latest funding round in under six hours.

Investment flooded in so quickly that the young company turned down an additional £500,000 that was offered.

The Academy of Robotics is currently developing Kar-Go, the autonomous delivery vehicle aiming to shake-up the market by removing 90 per cent of the costs involved in making a delivery. This, it hopes, will help increase profits for logistics companies and decrease costs for consumers.

By using a combination of advanced robotics and driverless vehicle technology, Kar-Go is designed to autonomously drive on unmarked roads such as residential areas.

Unlike many driverless vehicles that are best-suited to main roads and highways, Kar-Go is specifically designed with small, residential side-streets in mind.

The Academy of Robotics is partnered with UK car manufacturer Pilgrim Motorsports to build the street legal versions of their autonomous vehicles at Pilgrim’s production facility in the UK. The companies have collaborated on a data-gathering vehicle based on a classic Porsche.

The company recently announced it hired award winning designer Paul Burgess who left his role at McLaren to become chief designer at the Academy of Robotics.

“It has been 10 months since we closed our last funding round, as costs constantly change, there was a need to raise an additional £70,000 to take us through production,” said founder William Sachiti.

“We reached out to our existing investors and showed them our progress to date and then simply asked them to help close the funding gap.”

In under six hours the company had pledges for over £100,000 from half a dozen investors.  Within 24 hours the figure had reached nearly half a million.

“Half the formula for a winning start-up is having great investors aligned with it, who react decisively to funding rounds and requests for investment,” said Sachiti.

“We are very lucky to have great investors on board who fit into this category. My job is to steer the company in the right direction while also looking after the interests of the existing investors, which is why I only accepted £100,000 and turned down the rest.

“I am not keen on taking a bunch of money and then subsequently diluting our existing shareholders.”

After the prototype is complete, Sachiti has confirmed a raise of up to £3 million to build further prototypes of its Kar-Go vehicle for testing.

Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson recently tipped the company to put the UK’s autonomous car scene on the map – quite literally – after saying he believed it could be one of the first to actually bring driverless cars to the UK’s roads.