Self-Driving Technology Conquers the Last Mile — Our Investment in Boxbot

I’ve previously argued that it will be years before we share the roads with fully-autonomous, Level 5 self-driving cars. That said, there are specific use cases and environments where autonomous vehicles could hit the roads now. Self-driving delivery is another example of just such a use case.

Logistics automation within warehouses has made remarkable progress in the last decade due to advances in robotics and automated interfaces that streamline interactions between humans and supply chains. An inflection point came in 2012 when Amazon bought Kiva, which put them on a path to automate their fulfillment centers. The same autonomous technologies (i.e., perception, prediction, planning) used to pack boxes in the warehouse are now being pressed into the service of delivering those packages that last mile to your door — the most complex and expensive leg of the supply chain.

Today, I’m excited to share that Toyota AI Ventures has invested in Boxbot, a startup based in Oakland, California bringing self-driving vehicles to last-mile delivery. Led by founders CEO Austin Oehlerking and CTO Mark Godwin, Boxbot’s team has a rare combination of logistics and robotics expertise, having worked at companies like Tesla, Uber, Amazon, and Northrop Grumman. We are delighted to welcome Boxbot to our portfolio family.

Boxbot is our first investment in the autonomous delivery space, and while we can’t go into much detail as the company is still a little stealthy, we can say we’re impressed with their business model and solution to a global problem that McKinsey values at more than $80 billion. Winning this huge market will take a unique mix of autonomy tech, logistics expertise, and partnering savvy. We think Austin and Mark are exactly the kind of seasoned founders to reinvent this last-mile logistics market.

Read more about Boxbot’s seed funding, which was led by Artiman Ventures, and also includes Afore Capital, Pear Ventures, Ironfire Ventures, and The House Fund. And don’t forget to check out their jobs board. They are hiring!