Welcome to The Station, your go-to source for all things transportation. In this week’s edition, we have exciting news to share. LTA Research, a startup backed by Sergey Brin, has unveiled its prototype electric airship in the heart of Silicon Valley. This airship, which is the largest aircraft in the world, combines drone technology with fly-by-wire controls, electric motors, and lidar sensing. It has the potential to carry heavy cargo over long distances, marking a significant development in the transportation industry.
LTA Research, with the support of Sergey Brin, has revealed a groundbreaking prototype electric airship in Silicon Valley. This airship has the potential to revolutionize cargo transportation.
Ridepanda, a micromobility marketplace started by former employees of Bird, Lime, and Scoot, has taken a new direction. Instead of selling various electric bike and scooter models to customers nationwide, Ridepanda is now focusing on providing employers like Amazon and Google with end-to-end solutions for offering commuter benefits to their employees. This pivot was driven by the challenges of managing the supply chain and servicing multiple brands across the country, as well as the growing emphasis on sustainability and getting people back to the office.
Deal of the Week
In the world of autonomous vehicles, while Cruise and Waymo remain in the spotlight, another startup called May Mobility has been quietly operating in the background. Unlike its more prominent competitors, May Mobility adopts a B2B business model and recently raised $105 million in a Series D funding round led by Japan’s telecom giant NTT. With investments from other notable companies such as Toyota Ventures, BMW i Ventures, and State Farm Ventures, May Mobility has raised a total of $300 million. This funding will support the expansion of its autonomous vehicle operations.
In other news, EasyPark Group, a mobile paid parking company, plans to acquire Flowbird Group, which offers pay and display machines and software for parking. Flitter, a Paris-based insurance tech startup, raised €3.5 million in seed funding led by Swiss insurer Helvetia. Turkish instant grocery delivery startup Getir acquired New York-based online grocery delivery service FreshDirect. Niron Magnetics, a Minnesota-based startup developing rare earth-free permanent magnets, raised $33 million with investments from GM Ventures and Stellantis Ventures, among others. Finally, Zeekr, a subsidiary of Geely, is getting ready for a U.S. IPO.
Notable Reads and Other Tidbits
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company backed by GM, is facing challenges following an incident in which a woman was initially hit by a human driver and then became stuck under and dragged by a Cruise robotaxi. As a result, Cruise has temporarily halted production of its custom-built Origin vehicle, recalled its fleet of autonomous vehicles for software upgrades, and laid off contract workers responsible for maintenance and driverless operations. Furthermore, the California Public Utilities Commission has ordered a halt to Cruise’s permit to charge for robotaxi rides in San Francisco, pending a reconsideration of the permit.
Ghost Autonomy, through the OpenAI Startup Fund, is exploring the applications of multimodal large language models (LLMs) in self-driving technology. However, experts have expressed skepticism, suggesting that LLMs may not be suitable for autonomous vehicles. Meanwhile, Motional and Uber Eats are teaming up to deliver food autonomously from Shake Shack, and Waymo has started winter testing its robotaxis in Buffalo, New York.
Electric Vehicles, Batteries & Charging
Ram has introduced the 2025 Ramcharger, an electric truck that uses a gas-powered generator to charge its batteries. This vehicle has sparked mixed reactions, with some praising its innovation and others questioning its classification as an electric truck. Polestar, a Swedish EV company owned by China’s Geely Holdings, held its inaugural Polestar Day to showcase its future vision and next-generation vehicles. Despite the event’s promising presentations, contributor Abigail Bassett noted a contrast between Polestar’s vision and its present reality.
Lucid’s recent earnings report revealed a revision in its 2023 production outlook due to softening demand for luxury electric vehicles. However, the company has joined the Tesla charging standard bandwagon. Lyft’s third-quarter report showed steady growth, with 22.4 million active riders, signaling positive results from its strategy of competitive pricing to rival Uber. Rivian exceeded Wall Street expectations in its third-quarter results, with increased production guidance and the announcement that it is no longer exclusively partnered with Amazon.
In Uber’s third-quarter earnings report, the company demonstrated profitability in its ride-hailing and delivery business, despite slower growth in certain sectors.
Future of Flight
Archer Aviation has partnered with InterGlobe Enterprises to launch an all-electric air taxi service in India by 2026. Additionally, Skyryse, an aviation software startup, successfully completed an emergency landing procedure in a helicopter, showcasing its technology’s potential for production helicopters next year.