Autonomous delivery startup Nuro has struck a deal with safety-focused software company Foretellix to help with virtual testing of its automated driving system, in a bid to cut R&D costs while still pushing the technology forward.
The partnership, which the companies are set to announce later Thursday, comes in the wake of a tumultuous stretch for Nuro. The delivery startup, once a buzzy darling of the AV industry that raised more than $2 billion from high-profile investors such as Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company and Google, has cut its workforce twice in the past 18 months, including a restructuring in May 2023 that saw Nuro shift away from planned commercial operations.
Nuro is also partnering with Foretellix at a time when the broader AV industry is in flux, with GM self-driving subsidiary Cruise slashing its workforce and booting a number of leaders, TuSimple exiting the U.S. market and Argo AI shutting down in fall 2022.
Founded in 2018, Foretellix is backed in part by Toyota and Nvidia, and most recently raised a $43 million round in December. It has already struck similar deals with Volvo Group and Torc Robotics for its verification and validation software.
Many companies developing automated vehicles have their own simulation software; Foretellix specializes in generating millions of scenarios to test autonomous software, lowering the burden on the in-house teams.
“The product itself is a huge productivity boost, because if you need to develop all of these scenarios one by one, it takes an enormous amount of time,” Foretellix CEO and co-founder Ziv Binyamini said in an interview with TechCrunch.
Foretellix’s software is able to “automatically analyze” driving logs from Nuro test vehicles and re-run those drives in simulation many times over. This allows Nuro’s automated system to encounter many different versions of a drive without the hardship – and most importantly, time – required to run all those variations in the real world.
Foretellix declined to disclose financial figures around the deal, but Binyamini said his company had been speaking with Nuro about the partnership for around a year, and that they are already working together. Sreeja Roy Singh, Nuro’s head of systems engineering, said the collaboration will “play a critical role in Nuro’s development process.”