Amazon operates in various industries and it likes to use cutting-edge technologies. For example, the tech giant owns a robotaxi company, and the company is experimenting with delivery robots that drive on the sidewalk. The company is monitoring is also using AI-related technology to monitor employees and maximize productivity. Now Amazon is considering buying a big stake in a robot trucking startup.
The company placed an order for 1,000 autonomous driving systems from Plus.ai, a California-based company working on driverless trucking technology. The company also reached an agreement with Amazon to offer the tech giant the opportunity to purchase shares, according to a Monday filing.
As part of the agreement, the tech giant has the option to purchase up to 420,702,410 preferred shares of Plus at about $0.47 each. This would represent a 20% stake in the company. If the company founded by Jeff Bezos were to purchase the maximums shares available, it would represent an investment of nearly $200 million.
Amazon and new opportunities
Plus is one of the companies that is working to create driverless systems. It plans to merge with Hennessy Capital V, a SPAC that also sponsored the public debut of EV startup Canoo. The company from California is expected to receive approximately $500 million from the deal, including $150 million from a fully committed stock PIPE offering. The deal values the company with big ambitions at approximately $3.3 billion.
The latest agreement could eventually help the tech giant to remove the need for human drivers. By using Plus’ technology, the company could also eventually help overcome a national labor shortage, forcing delivery delays as well as rising transportation costs. At the moment, PlusDrive still requires a licensed driver.
But that could change in several years. PlusDrive is the robot trucking startup’s first product. PlusDrive operates similarly to Tesla’s “full self-driving” software, which requires also requires a driver. The startup hopes to sell a product that does not require a driver by the end of 2024.
Plus started delivering autonomous driving systems for semi-trucks this year to companies in the U.S. as well as China. Plus provided Chinese delivery company SF Holding with its system. This system allows semi-trucks to drive more than 900 miles per day.