The investment division of Volvo Group has made an undisclosed investment in Canadian autonomous driving technology company Waabi Innovation.
The investment by the company that manufactures Volvo and Mack heavy-duty trucks represents its view that the commercialization of autonomous driving will come in freight movement before passenger cars.
"Volvo Group can add considerable strategic value to the development of their business. We are currently exploring ways to cooperate," says Martin Witt, Volvo Group Venture Capital president.
Volvo Trucks North America, the U.S. division of the Swedish company, already has a partnership with Aurora Innovation and plans to test autonomous trucks on freight routes.
Fully autonomous trucking would add to freight capacity, increase efficiency through better utilization of expensive Class 8 trucks and improve safety, Volvo Group said.
In a blog post, Waabi said the trucking industry is challenged by a persistent driver shortage, increased freight demand and long transit times.
"Solving these challenges and shaping the future of scaled autonomous trucking requires best-in-class investors, technology providers, and partners working together to build deeper, more transparent relationships with fleet and shipper customers to ultimately provide the product that meets their needs," the Toronto company said.
In November, Waabi unveiled the Waabi Driver, its self-driving system. And last March, it launched its Waabi World simulator, which tests the Waabi Driver's reactions to the myriad scenarios needed to hone its driving skills.
Still, there's much development to be done, the company said.
"Autonomy will one day transform trucking and logistics, but the self-driving industry has not solved this challenge yet," said Raquel Urtasun, Waabi's founder and CEO.
Volvo said its investment did not represent a material financial event. It joins Khosla Ventures, Uber, Radical Ventures, 8VC, Omers Ventures and BDC Capital as Waabi investors.