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Ghost Autonomy, a startup that developed self-driving software for automaker partners, has shut down, TechCrunch has learned.

The startup, which has raised nearly $220 million in funding, announced in an announcement on its website that it will wind down its global operations and close the company effective Wednesday. The company has about 100 employees and operates operations in Mountain View, Dallas and Sydney.

“We are proud of the substantial technological innovation and progress the Ghost team has made in its mission to enable software-defined consumer autonomy,” a note on its website reads. “Given the current funding environment and the need for autonomous development and The long-term investment required for commercialization and the path to long-term profitability are uncertain. We are exploring potential long-term goals for our team’s innovation.”

The company’s closure comes just five months after the startup partnered with OpenAI through the OpenAI Startup Fund to gain early access to Microsoft’s OpenAI system and Azure resources. Ghost also received a $5 million investment from OpenAI. Last year, the company raised $55 million in its first round of funding from early investors including Keith Rabois of Founders Fund and Mike Speiser of Sutter Hill Ventures.

At the time, Ghost co-founder and CEO John Hayes touted the company’s plans to explore the use of multimodal large language models (LLMs)—artificial intelligence models that can understand text and images—in autonomous driving. He believes that the LL.M. offers a new way of understanding the “long tail”, adding reasoning to complex scenarios where current models are inadequate. Experts are skeptical of this approach.

Like many startups trying to commercialize self-driving car technology, Ghost has changed its approach over the years. The startup was originally called Ghost Locomotion and was founded in 2017. Two years later, the company made its public debut with a total investment of $63.7 million from Rabois of Founders Fund, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, and Speiser of Sutter Hill Ventures, with a plan to develop a kit that would allow private rides The car drives itself on the highway. The company said it will make the technology available in 2020.

After the deadline, Ghost raised another $100 million in 2021 and changed its plans to focus on collision prevention technology. The Series D round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures, with participation from Founders Fund and Coatue. Hayes told TechCrunch back in 2021 that the startup wasn’t closing the door entirely on consumer kit models, but was instead turning its attention to general-purpose crash avoidance technology to get to market faster.

His premise is that self-driving systems don’t need to identify and classify objects before avoiding them. Instead, the company is tracking the movement of clusters of pixels in a scene. Most other autonomous systems first identify an object and then use image localization to determine its size, distance, and other relevant characteristics. This strategy is used because different objects (even objects of the same size) will behave differently.

Reached by email on Wednesday, Hayes said the company has completed a product for highway driving and is moving it through urban environments with what he called “long-mile delivery.”

“Ultimately, the time it takes to bring a product to market cannot be financed,” he wrote.

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