Connect with us

Tech

DriveU.auto to power remote piloting of EasyMile’s autonomous shuttles, Coco’s sidewalk robots

Published

on

Autonomous shuttle company EasyMile and sidewalk robot delivery startup Coco are integrating DriveU.auto’s teleoperation and connectivity platform into their operations, DriveU.auto, an Israeli startup that came out of stealth last year, they announced at CES.

The autonomous vehicle industry is still a ways off from being able to commercialize full self-driving technology, despite the promises certain companies have made or the way they choose to name their advanced driver assistance systems. Indeed most countries still require a human to be in the loop during autonomous operations for safety purposes. To get to market faster and increase public acceptance of driverless vehicles, AV companies are turning to teleoperations, where a remote driver can swoop in to pilot the vehicles in the event of an emergency, anomaly or safety incident.

“Think of the site of an accident where there are multiple police officers gesturing at traffic to drive around,” Alon Podhurst, CEO at DriveU.auto, told TechCrunch. “The AI of the vehicle will in all likelihood ask for assistance to interpret these gestures and vocal commands. The remote operator needs to see a real-time view of the world around the vehicle she is assisting — a robot or an autonomous vehicle…We want to stream the feed from the vehicle sensors to the remote operator’s location. This must be done in a manner ensuring reliable, high-quality and low-latency connectivity so that the decisions being made by the remote operator are based on the actual real-world situation around the vehicle. This is done over cellular networks.”

Much of the success of teleoperations relies on high-performance connectivity in order to transfer video, audio and other sensor data. DriveU.auto’s connectivity platform aims to ensure stable network connections and avoid any latency, “dark spots” or drops in connection that could prevent a teleoperator intervening to help an autonomous vehicle.

“No single cellular network — not even 5G — can guarantee the performance levels needed for reliable remote operation,” said Podhurst. “Remember, the task is to transmit multiple feeds, as there are multiple cameras on the vehicle, of high-definition video over a constrained cellular network, from a moving vehicle. Bottom line — one network is not enough.”

DriveU.auto’s tech is already live on a fleet of EasyMile’s EZ10 autonomous shuttles that are serving a medical complex in France, and the company is in the process of integrating into the entire EasyMile fleet, according to Podhurst.

“As we continue to deploy more and more use cases for autonomous vehicles, we expect remote supervision to be a key component of our solution,” said Benoit Perrin, managing director of EasyMile, in a statement.

The startup’s connectivity solution is also already in Coco’s fleet of about 100 Coco 0 units, its proof-of-concept pilot vehicle. The plan is to integrate the platform into the new shipment of 1,000 Coco 1 robots, the hardware base of which is being built by Segway and will be deployed in Los Angeles and two other U.S. cities during Q1 2022, according to Coco.

Aside from EasyMile and Coco, the startup says it is already operational on robotaxis, autonomous trucks, other delivery robots and special use case AVs, all partnerships that are still under non-disclosure agreements, but Podhurst says he hopes to go public in the coming weeks. The company recently announced an 18-month partnership with Denso, a Japanese auto parts manufacturer.

DriveU.auto typically provides customers with a software development kit that is integrated into the vehicles’ computers. Customers operate their own vehicles, including the teleoperation, relying on the vehicle’s existing sensor suite and other hardware components. Podhurst says this software-only approach is a key component in the company’s market traction because it makes for faster integrations.

The software-based connectivity platform works by fusing three technologies: dynamic video encoding, low-latency algorithms and cellular bonding. The fused data package is then sent over multiple cellular networks based on the performance of the networks at the time of the transmission. The data is then reconstructed as video frames once it reaches the remote operator side. To break it down further, the platform is essentially made up of software modules that are integrated into the vehicle’s system and that interoperate with both a cloud-based software component and a module that’s been integrated into the remote operator’s computer.

“Integrating a superior connectivity solution on delivery robots dictates extremely demanding power and compute parameters,” said Sahil Sharma, COO of Coco, in a statement. “Having evaluated the industry leaders in this space, we found DriveU’s solution to be the strongest match for our growth plans and aggressive delivery schedules.”  

Source: Tech

Tech

Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

Published

on

By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

Published

on

Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

Published

on

A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Trending