EasyMile to Shore Up Staff, Spur Development Efforts

EasyMile might go from 60 to 100 this year — employees, that is.

The Toulouse, France-based startup received a €14 million ($14.8 million) minority investment from Alstom in a Series A funding round, which closed on Jan. 24. EasyMile intends to use the funds to accelerate growth and support the R&D program.

As such, the startup will likely grow its team this year, to help support the company’s development efforts, deployment of its driverless shuttles, and expansion into new markets — including the startup’s potential expansion into Germany, Mobility Buzz has learned.

EasyMile is developing the EZ-10, a battery-powered driverless 12-person shuttle, which provides last-mile — or short distance — transportation, from a transport hub to a final destination within a precinct or confined area.

This year, the startup plans to launch a new version of the EZ-10 driverless shuttle, Marion Lheritier, a spokesperson for the company, told Mobility Buzz, but declined to offer specifics.

The biggest challenge in deploying the EZ-10 shuttles on public roads is convincing everyone that it is safe, Lheritier said, and “bringing people onboard who know how to interact with the autonomous vehicles, and to explain how it works,” which is why the company is focused on employee recruitment and expansion.

In addition to its Southern France headquarters, EasyMile has an office in Singapore, which houses around 10 employees, Lheritier said. EasyMile will also open a new office in Denver, Colo., the company’s first U.S.-based office, by June 2017, she said. The Denver office is projected to employ around 10 people, a mixture of new hires and relocated staff.

“We are probably going to open another office in Europe,” Lheritier said. While it’s too soon to project which country the office will be located, Lheritier said, EasyMile is considering Germany.

Separately, the company is demonstrating its shuttles at convention centers and other locations nationwide, as part of the Autonomous Vehicles Road Trip 2017. Most recently, the vehicles were showcased in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 9 — which was the last stop during phase one of the road trip. The general public was offered free test rides at the demonstration.

The second phase of the road trip is expected to begin in March, Lheritier said.

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