Investing in Turing

Investing in Turing

by Taku Uchimaru

Z Venture Capital (ZVC) has invested in Turing Inc., a company that develops fully automated vehicles using generative AI.

The automotive industry is a key sector in the Japanese economy and has a tremendous impact on Japan, with automotive manufacturing accounting for 17.1% of total manufactured goods shipments and 5.54 million people employed in automotive-related industries, or 8.1% of the total employed population. Furthermore, four of the top 10 global automakers in terms of vehicle sales in 2022 are Japanese (including the Renault-Nissan alliance), demonstrating the presence of Japanese manufacturers in the world.

On the other hand, the automotive industry is currently undergoing a major transformation as the global shift to EVs and advances in automated driving technology continue. Especially in the new areas of EVs and automated driving, Japanese manufacturers have not been able to establish a strong enough presence: Japanese manufacturers do not rank in the top 10 in terms of EV sales, and advanced automated driving, such as that demonstrated by Tesla in California, has not yet been seen in Japan.

But I think there is potential in this area in Japan.

Japanese manufacturers are steadily investing in EVs and automated driving, and the government is deregulating automated driving. In addition, the horizontal division of labor in EV manufacturing is progressing, creating an environment in which emerging EV manufacturers can easily emerge.

Against this backdrop, I have high expectations for the emergence of multimodal generative AI such as LLM (Large Language Models) and LVM (Large Visual Models), which make sophisticated decisions based on multiple types of data, leading to major technological innovation and the realization of fully autonomous driving (LV5).

In this changing market environment, Turing (Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; CEO Issei Yamamoto), in which ZVC has invested, aims to mass produce fully automated EVs.

Turing is developing end-to-end (E2E) autonomous driving, in which AI makes all driving decisions, such as steering, braking, and acceleration, based solely on data from cameras. In particular, they have developed "Heron", a proprietary multimodal generative AI specialized for automated driving, and have been selected as a GENIAC (Generative AI Accelerator Challenge) under the initiative of NEDO/Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Another unique feature of Turing is that it aims to realize a fully autonomous vehicle without steering wheels by 2030 by simultaneously promoting the development of software and hardware, including the design of semiconductors as well as self-driving AI. At first glance, this world view may seem grandiose, but when I heard this vision from Yamamoto, Turing's CEO, I was completely fascinated by his world view and his enthusiasm for its realization. I believe that Turing's team, led by Yamamoto, Aoki and Tanaka, has great potential to change the way mobility is practiced.

We at ZVC will continue to support them and do our utmost to help them realize this new world.