A UK start-up developing artificial intelligence and machine learning for fully autonomous vehicles has received $2.7m in equity funding.
The funding, led by Amadeus Capital Partners with Spring Partners and Notion Capital, will enable Bristol-based FiveAI to grow its team, step-up its development and begin simulator and road testing of its software.
According to FiveAI, early approaches to autonomous vehicles have required accurate, 3D maps built using point cloud technology. In use, each vehicle then correlates against that map to work out where it is and establish a track to follow.
The company is now planning a system using much stronger AI and ML to ensure that autonomous vehicles can safely and accurately navigate all environments, including complex urban ones, with simpler maps. That approach will avoid the need to survey, maintain and share detailed 3D maps of the 37.2 million km of paved and unpaved road networks across the world.
FiveAI’s technology aims to deliver a safe and verifiable solution by combining supervised, semi-supervised and unsupervised learning techniques to build a real-time, accurate view of the world. This enhanced perception capability is key to enabling FiveAI to then apply further advanced AI technologies to better predict the actions and interactions between entities, and use that prediction to establish the actions of the vehicle itself.
FiveAI said it expects to provide its software to major players in the global mobility industry, including automotive OEMs, automotive industry suppliers, rental companies and transportation operators in both public and private spheres.
“Full autonomy will revolutionise the automotive and transportation sectors, enabling all of us to enjoy a low-cost, low-congestion and high-convenience mobility,” said Stan Boland, CEO of FiveAI in a statement. “Computer vision can, for the first time, be superior to human abilities and we will build such a capability. But safe and effective autonomous vehicles need more than just super-human perception. Humans use a variety of subtle cues and gestures to anticipate traffic events so our technology will do the same, ensuring equipped vehicles will be both safe and decisive in complex urban traffic environments.”
“Europe is home to many of the world’s top automotive OEMs and transportation operators, and the UK in particular is a hotbed for emerging AI and machine-learning talent,” said Hermann Hauser, co-founder and partner at Amadeus Capital. “We’re excited to support this team in building a European powerhouse for autonomous vehicle technology, through the use of machine learning and…university research to revolutionise the guidance systems for autonomous vehicles.”
FiveAI’s goal is to deliver complete or “Level 5” autonomy. According to SAE standards, the most advanced commercially available vehicles are considered to be Level 1 or Level 2 because the human driver is required to monitor the driving environment at all times, and fulfil all aspects of driving apart from some steering and acceleration/deceleration in certain circumstances.