Over the past decade, autonomous cars have moved from a curiosity and annoying petrol-heads to a top priority for global tech and auto companies. Why? The technology that enables vehicles to drive themselves has overcome major hurdles in practicality and cost, making autonomous vehicles (AVs) a reality. AVs will transform the way we transport goods and people, and is seen by many people as the future for automobile industry.
A new research has highlighted companies such as Tesla, Uber and Ford are heavily seeking to develop self-driving vehicles, which is not something new, others such as GM have taken the challenge one step further and are either in process of acquiring or investing in software start-ups. Still other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, have aligned their strategy in a bid to be the primary vehicle providers to tech companies that need vehicles to furnish.
The AV revolution shows no sign of slowing down, full autonomy (level 5) that involves millions of cars negotiating busy main roads completely bereft of human oversight will likely be some time away, with human acceptance of new technology being another hindering factor, however a new start-up from Israel believes to have found a way to bridge the gap to full autonomy.
The Tel Aviv-based start-up is pitching itself as a Tele-Operation platform for autonomous vehicles. The company was co-founded by CEO Amit Rosenzweig (brother of Oren Rosenzweig – Innoviz tech), formerly head of product management at Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Analytics, and CTO Leon Altarac, who previously set up the robotics and AV branch of the Israeli army.
Rosenzweig in an earlier interview said, “Our platform addresses all the core challenges in tele-operation, like network connectivity, safety and cybersecurity. And the feedback so far from key players is very encouraging.” This statement must have resonated with the right frequency with their listeners, as they have managed to secure a $3 million in seed funding, which will be used to expand its R&D team and initiate discussion with AV companies to prove adaptability and superior safety standard of its platform.
“Autonomous vehicles are inevitable, but safe deployment is still a core roadblock,” said Aaron Applebaum, principal at Mizmaa Ventures. “Major players agree that there is a real, unmet need in this domain.” He further adds: “We are thrilled to partner with Ottopia’s talented and battle-tested team to solve the problem of safe tele-operation. Their approach and drive give us full confidence that they’ll succeed.”
How does it help us?
Ottopia’s software platform allows the human operator and the car’s AI to work together during a remote intervention. The human assists the autonomous vehicle with decision-making in a complex scenario and the self-driving car then executes that decision and navigates with a full suite of sensors and safety measures engaged.
It should also be pointed out, Ottopia’s software isn’t quite ready for commercialization, and the company will have a pre-demo version ready by the end of Q1 2019, followed by a minimum viable product (MVP) by the end of Q3.
So in reality, Ottopia has a bright future ahead, the premise is fresh and innovative, so all we need now to see it in action.