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Bestmile raises $16.5 million to optimize autonomous vehicle fleets

Bestmile has raised $16.5 million in venture capital as the Switzerland-based startup continues expansion of a platform that manages autonomous and human-driven vehicles.

The company’s software was originally designed to help transportation companies optimize fleets of self-driving vehicles, including cars, trucks and shuttles. But it has also evolved to work with traditional vehicles as it’s become clear that the shift to an autonomous world will stretch out over many years.

“We are creating this kind of flexibility of the platform because the transition to fully autonomous will be maybe 15 years,” said Raphael Gindrat, CEO and co-founder of Bestmile. “So our customers need one platform to manage both in parallel.”

Founded in 2014, the company now has more than 55 employees. Most of those are located in its Lausanne headquarters, with a handful each in North America and Asia.

The company now has 15 customers, with the primary use case being customers who have deployed autonomous shuttles in strictly-defined zones. Recently, Florida-based Beep selected Bestmile as its fleet management partner for its self-driving shuttles.

But Bestmile also has a deal with Alto, a ridehailing company that owns and operates its own fleet of human-driven vehicles. Gindrat said its platform works just as well to help manage such a service, improving safety and cost effectiveness.

While autonomous vehicles have been experiencing waves of hype and pessimism, Gindrat said the market overall is developing at about the pace Bestmile expected at this point. Going forward, he expects the pace of deployments to vary widely by city and company.

“We always knew it would take some time,” he said. “It’s not black and white. One day it’s not ready, and the next day it’s deployed world wide. It’s going to be a step by step process. But it’s an industry where you are too early until you are too late. And if you are too late, it’s game over.”

The funding follows a previous round of $11 million it raised in March 2018. The latest round was led by Blue Lagoon Capital and TransLink Capital, but also included money from previous investors, including Road Ventures, Partech, Groupe ADP, Airbus Ventures, Serena Capital. The company plans to use the money to expand its sales teams and continue product development.

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