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Rideshare Company Via Seeks to Build the Data ‘Rails’ for Autonomous Vehicles

By now, everyone knows what a rideshare company does: it provides us with apps to call cars that take us places, right? Well, not only.

While you’re enjoying a ride in an Uber, a Lyft, or a Via, their software collects data on your route. Whichever company gathers the most useful data will become the ultimate rideshare venture for the cities of the future, Via’s CEO Daniel Ramot told Mobility Buzz.

“We will be growing in two ways: first of all, we see our own platform in New York, Chicago and D.C. growing substantially, with additionally cities to be added soon,” he said during the Israel Tech Meetup last week in New York. In addition, Via’s gathering “millions of miles of data on continuous basis,” Ramot said, in order to build up the software behind its service.

“We are creating a comprehensive software on which these [autonomous and electric shuttles] will run, and which will direct these vehicles to where they need to go, using the most optimal routes,” he explained. “For the last year, we see a big transition among public transit authorities, who are now actively looking to launch dynamic transportation services.” The startup expects to announce partnerships “in the near future.”

In the data tug of war, Via does not directly compete with Uber or Lyft. “They are more of a shared taxi service, while we are a shuttle: a big difference in the routes we do,” Ramot said.

Currently, Via completes “about a quarter of a million” rides a week, Ramot said, and is at 30% of Uber’s marketshare in Manhattan area – Via’s main market.

First launched in 2012, the on-demand transit company raised $100 million in Series C funding in May last year. The funding was led by Pitango Growth, and brought Via’s total funding to $137 million. The company currently provides ridesharing services, similar to UberPool, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

Watch CEO Daniel Ramot discuss Via’s vision Israel Tech Meetup in New York.

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