Autonomous delivery startup White Rhino sealed a pre-Series A financing round worth nearly USD 10 million led by Linear Capital. The company will use these funds to develop its unmanned distribution vehicles.
Founded in April 2019 by former Baidu Apollo engineers Zhu Lei and Xia Tian, White Rhino is currently testing its unmanned delivery in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, and began cooperating with Yonghui Superstores to deliver groceries in late 2020.
Grocery deliveries have laxer time requirements than meal deliveries from restaurants, and bulk orders can sometimes be too heavy for human delivery riders, making them more compatible with White Rhino’s delivery systems, CEO Zhu Lei said. The company first began testing its grocery delivery services in partnership with a Yonghui supermarket in Shanghai, supplying ten unmanned vehicles to the location. Since then, White Rhino’s vehicles have completed more than 20,000 orders for this Yonghui branch. The company seeks to replicate this success in other cities, Zhu said.
White Rhino’s autonomous delivery solutions are meant to supplement existing logistics systems, especially during busy periods like Chinese New Year or National Week holidays, said marketing manager Wang Hanji. The unmanned delivery vehicles can also operate in severe weather conditions, when delivery platforms normally have to pay extra for manual delivery. Going forward, the company expects to increase the number of delivery vehicles in its fleet and build the underlying infrastructure to scale operations across the country, said CTO Xia Tian.
“Autonomous driving technology is gradually maturing and becoming more practical. Last-mile logistics in urban settings is the easiest scenario to commercialize self-driving technology, and represents a trillion-yuan market. We believe White Rhino, under the leadership of Zhu Lei and Xia Tian, has the best team competing in this sector,” said Wang Huai, founder and CEO of Linear Capital.
36Kr Connection features translated and adapted content published by 36Kr. This article was originally written by Wang Yijin for 36Kr.