Serial Australian entrepreneur Tim Kentley-Klay is back in founder mode two years after being fired from his autonomous mobility company Zoox, with a new robotics ventures that’s attracted support from mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.
His latest idea, launched this year, is HYPR – not to be confused with the US influencer marketing platform or the New Zealand tech transformation companies of the same name – in a similar vein to Zoox, using artificial intelligence and robotics to develop autonomous mobility ecosystems.
HYPR is keen to taken of its founder’s former venture, along with other autonomous vehicle companies such as Uber and Google’s Waymo project.
Zoox was acquired by Amazon in the middle of 2020, for a reported US$1.2 billion, having raised more than $800 million in funding since Kentley-Klay co-founded it in 2014. The company was valued at US$3.2 billion following a $500m round in 2018 and had planned to have an autonomous car on the road by this year. He was CEO when he was dismissed in August 2018 saying it was “without a warning, cause or right of reply”.
“Today was Silicon Valley up to its worst tricks,” he wrote on Twitter at the time in a since-deleted tweet. .
Twiggy Forrest has joined US VC investor R7 Partners in a US$10 million seed round that reportedly values HYPR at US$200 million.
Of HYPR, the company says it is developing robotic systems:”that have the visceral ability to master their environments faster than real-time, in-situ, and crucially, without human-in-the-loop instruction or supervision. We believe this approach will lead to a break through in the field of autonomous robotics enabling a step-change in commercial applications.”
Kentley-Klay was recently recognised at the 2020 Advance Awards with the Advance Global Australian and the Advance Commercial Creative Awards.