Ghost Autonomy, a startup focused on autonomous driving software, has ceased operations worldwide as of April 3, 2024.

The shutdown comes after the company faced challenges in maintaining long-term profitability and funding.

Despite raising nearly $220m in venture capital and securing a partnership with OpenAI, which included a $5m investment and access to Microsoft Azure resources, Ghost Autonomy ultimately faced difficulties in sustaining its operations.

Initially founded in 2017 as Ghost Locomotion with plans to develop a kit for privately owned vehicles to drive autonomously on highways, the company shifted its focus over the years.

The startup raised additional funding and altered its strategy to prioritise crash prevention technology, aiming to bring a universal collision avoidance system to market faster.

Ghost Autonomy experimented with multimodal large language models to enhance autonomous driving systems’ reasoning capabilities. This approach aimed to address shortcomings in existing systems and improve understanding of complex scenes.

Despite completing a highway driving product and making progress in urban environments, the company faced financial constraints that hindered its ability to bring products to market.

According to a 2023 report from research company GlobalData, drivers will not be able to experience roads full of completely autonomous vehicles for at least another 20 years.

GlobalData’s Thematic Research: Autonomous Vehicles (2023) report states that the path to Level 4 autonomous vehicles and above “is likely to be slow”.

Level 5 autonomy relates to self-driving cars that do not require any human interaction – meaning that when they’re eventually deployed, they won’t have steering wheels or pedals. 

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