Phantom Auto raises $13.5M to expand remote driving business to delivery bots and forklifts

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Remote driving startup Phantom Auto has raised $13.5 million of financing in a Series A round led by Bessemer Venture Partners — capital used to expand a logistics business targeting sidewalks, warehouses and cargo yards, all the places where autonomy and teleoperation are being deployed today.

The startup, founded in 2017, has raised about $19 million to date. Byron Deeter and Tess Hatch from Bessemer have joined Phantom’s board.

The so-called “race” to deploy self-driving trucks, robotaxi services and other applications of autonomous vehicle technology on public roads has encountered a speed bump of sorts that has sent ripples throughout the nascent industry.

In short: autonomous vehicles are hard and everyone seems to be waking up to that fact.

As deployment timelines have moved, companies have quieted. Some have pivoted, shuttered, or been snapped up in acquisitions by other better capitalized companies looking for talent. Other companies, like Phantom Auto that are adjacent to the industry, are expanding into new areas as they wait for autonomous vehicle developers to catch up.

Phantom Auto co-founder Elliot Katz emphasized that the company is still working with customers deploying autonomous passenger and commercial vehicles on public roads. This new logistics business, however, holds