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Mobileye and Zeekr plan to build an autonomous EV for Chinese consumers

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Intel subsidiary Mobileye is partnering with Chinese automaker Zeekr to develop an all-electric autonomous vehicle for consumers. The vehicle will be sold in China starting in 2024 and eventually roll out to other markets, the companies said Tuesday without naming specific countries or timeline.

The companies made the announcement Tuesday at the 2022 CES tech trade show in Las Vegas. Mobileye also announced separate deals with Ford and Volkswagen Group to use its mapping technology to support their respective advanced driving assistance systems.

The planned Zeekr autonomous vehicle will combine Mobileye’s chips with Zeekr parent company Geely Holdings’ electric vehicle architecture, which includes redundant braking, steering and power. The company didn’t show what that vehicle might look like (the main photo shown in this article is of the Zeekr 001 EV, which includes Mobileye tech).

The upcoming vehicle will have so-called Level 4, or L4, capabilities, a term that means it will be able to handle all aspects of driving for the human in certain conditions. This might mean the technology will only work on certain roadways or urban centers or when weather conditions are ideal.

The Mobileye tech will include six of its EyeQ5, or fifth generation, system-on-chips, which will be used to process incoming data from sensors as well as incorporate the company’s branded “Road Experience Map” mapping technology and Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS)-based driving policy.

Mobileye also announced that it is scaling up research and development efforts in China with plans to open a local data center and boost with workforce there.

The Mobileye-Zeekr news comes less than a month since Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous driving technology arm, announced it was partnering with Chinese automaker Geely to build an all-electric, self-driving ride-hailing vehicle. The companies said they would integrate Waymo’s AV system into Geely’s Zeekr vehicles for use in U.S. markets “in the years to come.”

Mobileye, best known for its chips that support advanced driver assistance systems, has also been developing automated vehicle technology for several years. Its full self-driving stack — which includes redundant sensing subsystems based on camera, radar and lidar technology — is combined with its REM mapping system and RSS driving policy.

Mobileye’s REM mapping system crowdsources data by tapping into consumer and fleet vehicles equipped with its system on chip to build high-definition maps that can be used to support ADAS and autonomous driving systems. That data is not video or images but compressed text that collects about 10 kilobits per kilometer. The mapping technology is accessed via the cloud to provide, in real time, up-to-date information on the drivable paths ahead.

Mobileye already has agreements with BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen to collect that data on vehicles equipped with the EyeQ4 chip — the most recent chip equipped in vehicles — which is used to power the advanced driver assistance system. On fleet vehicles, Mobileye collects data from an after-market product it sells to commercial operators. Today, more over 1 million vehicles harvesting REM data – now up to over 25 million kilometers per day. Mobileye has used all of this crowd-sourced, anonymized information to create a database of precise, high-definition maps that it has branded Mobileye Roadbook.

Mobileye is now expanding its relationship with Volkswagen Group to take the map data that is being collected and apply it to the automaker’s travel Assist 2.5 driver assistance system. The expanded partnership was also announced at CES.

Under the agreement, Mobileye’s Roadbook will be used to increase the functionality of VW’s ADAS. For instance, where available, lane-keeping assistance will be provided in many areas without visible lane markings, according to Mobileye.

The companies said Tuesday that Roadbook-enhanced Travel Assist feature will be available soon in Volkswagen, Škoda and Seat electric vehicle models based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform.

Mobileye also announced Tuesday that Ford will begin using Mobileye’s REM mapping technology in future versions of available Ford’s hands-free advanced driver assistance system called BlueCruise. The companies did not share a timeline for when the mapping tech would be integrated into Ford’s ADAS system.

Source: Tech

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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