Seoul Robotics has taken a divergent route on the road to commercializing autonomous automobiles. Alternatively of producing and embedding the total self-driving technique, which includes sensors into a automobile, Seoul is turning to surrounding infrastructure to do some of the weighty lifting.
And its contrarian method has attracted a new group of investors and $25 million in undertaking funding. The Sequence B funding was led by KB Investment, according to Seoul Robotics.
“Instead of outfitting the motor vehicles themselves with sensors, we’re outfitting the encompassing infrastructure with sensors,” vice president of item and solutions at Seoul Robotics Jerone Floor mentioned in August when the business partnered with NVIDIA.
The company’s autonomous-car or truck infrastructure platform identified as Level 5 Command Tower (or LV5 CTRL TWR) along with its branded Sensr software, collects information and facts from sensors like cameras and lidar (mild detection and ranging radar) as properly as other data stored in the cloud and then sends that to vehicles.
According to Seoul Robotics CEO Hanbin Lee, the LV5 CTRL TWR utilizes an automatic transmission and connectivity crafted into vehicles to maneuver them autonomously without requiring components.
Seoul Robotics statements its LV5 CTRL TWR allows present information on the bordering natural environment and chooses the most secure route for the auto.
The infrastructure platform manages a car’s functions this kind of as lane-retaining and brake guidance by means of its technologies, known as “autonomy by means of infrastructure (ATI),” and a V2X (vehicle-to-all the things) communication procedure, which sends information from a vehicle to any encompassing infrastructure and other motor vehicles.
“[With the autonomy through infrastructure (ATI), users can automate millions of cars passing through a parking lot with only a few hundred sensors,” Lee said.
Seoul Robotics deployed its technology with BMW to test the German car’s pilot program with the new BMW 7 Series and the fully electric BMW i7 in July 2022.
Founded in 2017 by four co-founders, Seoul Robotics now works with global manufacturers (OEMs) like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Qualcomm and LG Uplus to diversify the use of its system.
“We are in discussions with about nine more global OEMs now for partnerships,” Lee said.
Lee also said that one of its most unique features is that its Sensr software, launched in 2018, allows users to choose a sensor, or multiple sensors, that best fit their needs, meaning that customers can select services based on their requirements and budgets.
“While Sensr is very much still the backbone of our product offerings, including LV5 CTRL TWR, the types of solutions we offer are far more sophisticated compared to 2018,” Lee told TechCrunch. “We now offer three plug-and-play LiDAR development kits that include all the components necessary for any organization to get set up with a 3D system.” Additionally, it provides solutions tailored to a specific application, such as pedestrian safety, railroad obstacle detection and Level 5 autonomy, Lee continued.
Lee explained that the earliest LiDAR-based perception software was all developed by sensor manufacturers, and the software had to be tied to the hardware. “With that approach, the challenge was that each sensor have different strengths and weaknesses; some have a wide field of view but short range, others have a narrow field of view and long-range,” Lee said. “It is also not possible to mix and match sensor, which we come in.”
Last week, the company launched a feature that uses LiDAR and its Sensr software to detect and alert instances of wrong-way driving. Seoul Robotics says the wrong-way detection feature is being deployed on freeways and highways in California, Florida and Tennessee, as well as in Europe and Asia.
With the latest funding, the startup plans to grow its team and expand applications of Sensr to bring its automated vehicle technology to other potential partners across industries like logistics (rental car fleets, trucking yards and automated valet parking systems), smart cities and security, Lee said. Other investors include Noh and Partners, Future Play, Korean Development Bank, Artesian and Access Ventures also participated in Series B.
The company, headquartered in Seoul with offices in Munich, California, and Raleigh, raised $6 million in Series A in 2020.