Ford-backed nuTonomy to launch driverless cars overseas

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Fontinalis Partners, the venture capital firm founded by Bill Ford Jr., invested for the second time in Massachusetts-based nuTonomy, a company hoping to launch driverless taxis in Singapore in two years.

Fontinalis was one of a number of backers, including Highland Capital Partners and Signal Ventures, to invest $16 million in nuTonomy in the startup’s most recent round of funding. Fontinalis also helped contribute to a $3.6 million round of funding nuTonomy announced in January.

NuTonomy was founded in 2013 and specializes in autonomous car software. It’s working on deploying a fleet of driverless taxis on the streets of Singapore that could be accessed through a smartphone app, much like Uber or Lyft.

“NuTonomy’s self-driving vehicle software unlocks access to a multi-trillion dollar global ‘robo-taxi’ opportunity,” Karl Iagnemma, co-founder and CEO of nuTonomy, said in a statement. “This funding will accelerate the pace of our progress in deploying self-driving vehicles in Singapore and beyond.”

It was the first company allowed to test autonomous cars in Singapore, and plans to launch its taxi service there in 2018.

NuTonomy has tested several of its retrofitted Mitsubishi iMiev electric cars at Ann Arbor’s MCity, and executives say they plan to test on Michigan’s public roads soon. The company also tests in the United Kingdom.

“NuTonomy’s self-driving software is ushering in a new era of autonomous mobility,” Chris Thomas, founder and partner at Fontinalis, said in a statement. “The opportunity to partner with teams like nuTonomy’s — groups that are reshaping transportation systems around the globe — is the reason we founded Fontinalis.”

(313) 222-2401