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Autonomous trucking startup Ike raises $52 million

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Ike said its funding round will help the company expand beyond its 30-person team as it drives forward with its mission to build a commercial product at scale. (Courtesy: IKE)

SAN FRANCISCO — Autonomous trucking startup Ike said Tuesday it had completed a series A round of $52 million, led by Bain Capital Ventures. Redpoint Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Basis Set Ventures, and Neo also invested in the round.

Ike was founded by veterans of Apple, Google and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s self-driving truck program.

Bain’s website says the company partners with B2B founders to accelerate the bringing of the founders’ ideas to market. Its investments range from $1 million of seed capital through $100 million of growth equity.

An Ike spokesperson said the company is building “cutting edge” automation technology for the trucking industry.”

“And despite their importance, truck drivers are often overlooked, overworked, and put in harm’s way. Ike believes self-driving technology for long-haul trucking can be part of the solution,” the spokesperson said.

Ike said its funding round will help the company expand beyond its 30-person team as it drives forward with its mission to build a commercial product at scale.

“Trucks are the secret backbone of our economy. They are a part of all of our lives  —  delivering groceries to the local market, transporting lumber and steel to build our homes, bringing us supplies in a disaster,” said a signed by Nancy Sun, Jur van den Berg, Alden Woodrow, and the entire Ike team. “Yet trucks are hidden in plain sight, often around back at the loading dock or out on rural highways moving through the night.”

The Ike team said trucking had never been at a more critical moment.

“A shortage of drivers, new regulations, growing accident rates, the rise of ecommerce  —  these issues are rapidly changing an industry at the core of American society,” the blog said. “We think self-driving trucks can help solve these issues. We’ve spent our careers building new technologies, from electric motorcycles to wind turbines to self-driving cars. We came together over a passion for trucking, and created Ike with a mission to make trucks safer, truckers more valuable, and trucking more efficient.”

Ike is named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the U.S. interstate system he helped create when he signed the Federal Aid Highway Act June 29, 1956.

The Ike spokesperson said the prototype would be produced within the next few months.

“However, it’s important to keep in mind that Ike is making progress without needing to have trucks on the road and will be going through a very rigorous testing process including private track operation before they put an activated vehicle on the road,” the spokesperson said.

 

 

 

 

 

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Freightwaves, CO.LAB introducing Freighttech Innovation Challenge for college students

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — FreightWaves and CO.LAB, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurial growth in southeast Tennessee, are cohosting the inaugural FreightTech Innovation Challenge: A 24-Hour Transportation and Logistics Use Case Competition on March 29-30, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

College students from across the U.S. will spend two days working to solve challenges facing the transportation and logistics industries with the chance to win cash prizes and find potential employers. The team that places first in the competition will receive $5,000, followed by $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place.

The event will take place at FreightWaves’ new office and event space, which officially opens this spring, which has been named “Freight Alley.” Representatives from leading companies in the industry, some of whom are sponsors of the event, will be on hand to network with students to mentor the teams while scouting for future talent.

“This is a chance for college students to not only win a prize, but to jump-start an exciting career in the freight tech sector,” said Craig Fuller, CEO and Founder of FreightWaves.

The collaboration between CO.LAB and FreightWaves is a pairing of FreightWaves’ expertise and its industry network with CO.LAB’s experience in developing fast-paced competitions that focus on building talent pipelines. CO.LAB has produced several versions of 48Hour Launch, a community-driven competition designed to produce business concepts or prototypes in one weekend, and it has cohosted 24Hour Generator with Chattanooga’s Girls Preparatory School, which brings together local female high school and middle school students to work on real business challenges.

“This collaboration with FreightWaves is an incredible opportunity to show the country’s upcoming talent what Chattanooga has to offer,” said Marcus Shaw, CEO of CO.LAB. “By the end of the event, we believe we will see students not only take away a great learning experience but also new relationships that can impact their career trajectory.”

Chattanooga, nicknamed “The Scenic City” due to its beauty and outdoor recreation, has in recent years become a new hub for startups and large companies, particularly in the transportation and logistics industries due to its location in relation to freight traffic  in the Southeast. Logistics contributes to more than 40 percent of the local economy, and 1.25 million of the region’s 37 million people are employed by the transportation sector. Of those, 230,000 are heavy-duty truck drivers.

“Chattanooga is the beating heart of Freight Alley, so I can’t think of a better place to bring together bright minds from across the country to help solve some of our industry’s most perplexing challenges,” Fuller said.

Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, spent a day touring Chattanooga’s startup community, which included a roundtable with leaders in the transportation and logistics industries.

“If you start a company there [in Chattanooga] to serve the trucking industry, you have more expertise about what the needs are, and more customers and partners there in Chattanooga as opposed to New York City, Boston and San Francisco,” Case said in an interview on PBS last fall.

Students interested in business, supply chain, technology, computer science, data and logistics can apply to . The deadline to apply is March 8.

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9 semis involved in accident on I-80 in Nebraska

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Of the 30 crashes reported to the Nebraska State Patrol Wednesday morning, the biggest took place near Aurora, Nebraska where 11 vehicles, nine of the big rigs, were involved in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 (Courtesy: NEBRASKA STATE PATROL)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — At least three people were injured in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 Wednesday morning that involved nine semi-trucks and two passenger vehicles, The Grand Island Independent reported Thursday.

The vehicles were involved in multiple crashes on I-80 between Giltner and Aurora.

The paper’s report said five vehicles took part in a chain-reaction crash and that because of the pileup, I-80 was closed to eastbound traffic for about three hours while emergency crews worked at the scene and cleared the road.

Weather conditions were a factor in the crashes.

The paper said that at about 9:10 a.m., Hamilton County received a 911 call that two semi-tractor/trailers had crashed and jackknifed, blocking eastbound traffic near mile marker 328. As troopers and officers were en route to the scene, additional vehicles became involved in a chain-reaction crash. The first crash scene involved four semis and one passenger vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee.

After the initial incident, a pair of semis that were traveling together came upon the scene and were unable to stop. One struck the other, pushing it into the Jeep Cherokee.

Both occupants of the Cherokee were transported to the hospital in Aurora, but the passenger, Jason Palmer, 29, of Indiana, was flown to Kearney with life-threatening injuries. The driver was evaluated and has been released from the hospital.

One of the semi drivers, Jeffrey Clark, 56, of Colorado, was also transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The paper reported that as traffic was stopped for the first crash scene, another semi jackknifed while attempting to avoid the stopped traffic. Moments later, another crash occurred a short distance to the west involving two more semis and a minivan. No injuries were reported in those crashes.

In total, there were nine semis and two passenger vehicles involved in the incidents near mile marker 328.

The State Patrol said within 24 hours after the storm began, troopers handled 166 motorist assists, responded to 30 crashes and assisted other agencies with 17 incidents. Motorist assists can include slide-offs, flat tires, etc.

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White House ends California talks on mileage standards

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Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said the Trump administration's negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been "superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst." (Courtesy: U.S. Senate)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration broke off vehicle mileage standards talks with California on Thursday, moving the two closer to a possible court battle that threatens to unsettle the auto industry.

The White House said in a statement that the administration, which wants to freeze mileage standards, would now move unilaterally to “finalize a rule later this year with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles.”

California officials and the Trump administration each accused the other of failing to present any good compromise proposal in the mileage dispute, which comes as President Donald Trump feuds with the Democrat-led state over his proposed border wall and his threats to take back federal money.

The administration announced last year it wanted to freeze what would have been tougher, Obama-era mileage standards for cars and light trucks. It would be one of a series of rollbacks targeting Obama administration efforts against pollution and climate change.

Under the administration proposal, the standards would be frozen after slightly tougher 2020 levels go into effect, eliminating 10 miles per gallon of improvement to a fleet average of 36 miles per gallon in 2025.

As part of the proposed mileage freeze, the administration threatened to revoke California’s legal authority to set its own, tougher mileage standards, a waiver granted that state decades ago to help it deal with its punishing smog. About a dozen states follow California’s mileage standards.

Lawmakers and automakers have urged the two sides to settle, warning that a split could divide the auto market, bring years of court battles and raise costs for automakers.

“This administration’s negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst,” Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat in the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement late Wednesday, as the formal negotiations breakdown loomed.

“Litigation is not the best option here. It wastes time, money, creates uncertainty for American automakers, and harms the environment,” Carper said.

California officials say the administration never offered any compromise and that it broke off any contacts around December.

“We concluded at that point that they were never serious about negotiating, and their public comments about California since then seem to underscore that point,” said Stanley Young, spokesman for the state’s air board.

It’s the latest shot by the White House in its escalating feud with California. The Trump administration earlier in the week said it planned to cancel nearly $1 billion for California’s high-speed rail project and would seek the return of $2.5 billion more. Gov. Gavin Newsom said it was political retribution for the state’s role in leading a 16-state lawsuit against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get funds for his proposed wall at the southern border.

Since it takes several years to design vehicles, automakers have been planning to meet higher mileage requirements under Obama-era standards, as well as those in other countries.

For now, “essentially the industry is ignoring what Trump wants to do,” auto-industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research said. “We know at least until this thing gets settled in the courts, we have to deal with California and the other states and have product that can sell there as well as products that can sell overseas.”

 

 

 

 

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