Aurora Labs raised $23 Million for Automotive Software

Above: Zohar Fox, Aurora Labs’ Co-founder and CEO. “The name of the game is Zero Downtime”

Toyota Group, VW Group and LG Group are looking for new ways to manage their software programs  in a much cost effective and secured manner compared with current methods. For the car manufacturers among them, this issue is urgent. Today’s semi autonomous in-vehicle’s systems are run by complicated multi-million lines software systems, that need to be frequently updated while fully comply with strict standards and regulations such as UNECE WP.29.

They may found a  solution: A combination of embedded software program and a cloud service developed by Aurora Labs from Tel Aviv, that continuously collect actionable data, enabling pre-error detection of line-of-code faults, software error fixes on-the-go and cost-effective OTA updates without downtime for the user. Aurora Labs announced that it has secured $23 million funding from top strategic investors, including LG Technology Ventures, Porsche SE, Toyota Tsusho, a member of Toyota Group and UL Ventures, the investment arm of the global safety certification company UL.

Line-Of-Code Behavior Technology

This announcement is a follow-up to a recent Porsche SE announcement that Aurora Labs’ technology is entering serial implementation within the next two years. Founded in 2016 by Zohar Fox (CEO) and Ori Lederman (COO), Aurora Labs invented  a new technology called Line-Of-Code Behavior protected by 22 registered patents. It provides remote software management, remote diagnostics and over-the-air software updates to guarantee that devices are always-on and to predict and fix software problems, including cybersecurity attacks.

“As auto manufacturers plan for new regulations and all manufacturers prioritize software in their product development, Aurora Labs becomes a strategic partner,” said Zohar Fox, Aurora Labs’ Co-founder and CEO. But the company plans to gain a foothold in other markets as well. Fox told Techtime that following the raising round, Aurora will enter new markets such as Industry 4.0, Robotics, Smart Metering and Automated Warehouses.

Fox: “Our vision is to enable Self Healing Smart Devices. Any software-based device will be able to detect malfunctions, isolate them, fix them and to perform an automatic recovery process. The systemS will never crash and will always be available. The name of the game is Zero Downtime, and that’s a real game changer.”

BMW-Mercedes Break up is bad news for Intel/Mobileye

Photo above: BMW impression of highway autonomous driving

Less than a year since the German Automotive giants BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG agreed to work together on a joint development program of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems and automated driving, they decided to halt the cooperation and to take different paths. Last week they announced that they are putting their cooperation in automated driving “temporarily on hold”.

The original agreement raised many expectations: On July 2019, the two parties announced an agreement for a long-term strategic cooperation, which will include joint development of driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking (SAE Level 4). They planned to bring together more than 1,200 specialists from both companies, often in mixed teams, to develop a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data centre for data storage, administration and processing, and functions and software.

Intel/BMW vs Mercedes/NVIDIA

For Intel and Mobileye (owned by Intel) it was a great opportunity: They both have a long and deep cooperation with BMW Group in all aspects of Autonomous Driving, and the agreement could secure their dominant position in the German car industry. “We have systematically further developed our technology and scalable platform with partners like Intel, Mobileye, FCA and Ansys,” said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management of BMW. “Our current technology, with extremely powerful sensors and computing power, puts us in an excellent position.”

But those hopes were short lived: “Digitalization is a major strategic pillar for Mercedes-Benz. To prepare for the future challenges of a rapidly changing environment, we are currently also sounding out other possibilities with partners outside the automotive sector,” said Markus Schäfer, Board Member of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz.

And it turned out that one of these “partners” is NVIDIA – a bitter competitor of Intel and Mobileye. On Tuesday, June 23, they announced a cooperation to create a revolutionary in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure. Starting in 2024, this will be rolled out across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The new software-defined architecture will be built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform and will be standard in Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation fleet. But there is a twist: NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications for SAE level 2 and 3 – far below the ambitious goal of the original BMW/Mercedes coalition.

UVeye to open a manufacturing facility in the United States

The Tel Aviv based UVeye, which develops digital scanning systems for the automotive industry, has begun to set up its operations across the United States. The company announced plans to open sales and business development offices in Ohio and New York in the next four months. Now it is exploring several of possible locations, including Michigan and Texas, for the establishment of a production facility in 2021.

UVeye has its sights set on the automotive aftermarket industry, including auto dealerships, licensed garages, vehicle inspection stations and used car lots. UVeye’s marketing director Yaron Saghiv told Techtime: “This is a large market, and we believe it could generate orders for tens of thousands of systems. This is why we also want to manufacture in the United States.”

UVeye has developed three mobile digital systems that perform scans from multiple angles while driving and automatically diagnose various aspects of the vehicle’s status using computer vision technology. The Artemis system scans the vehicle’s tires from the side and detects abrasion, low tire pressure, tread wear sidewall flaws; the Atlas system performs an overall, 360-degree scan of the vehicle and detects sheet-metal defects and mechanical malfunctions such as oil leaks and brake problems; and the Helios system scans the car’s undercarriage and detects suspicious objects.

The company was founded in 2016 by the CEO Amir Hever and by Ohad Hever. It has already secured strategic collaborations with several international automakers, including Volvo and Toyota, which have also invested in the company. Volvo even installed one of the company’s systems in its manufacturing plant near Gothenburg, for the purpose of identifying manufacturing defects. The Israeli public transport company Kavim also installed a number of UVeye systems in their car parks.

Arbe Raised $32M for New Automotive 4D Radar Chipset

Arbe from Tel-aviv, announced the closing of $32 million in Round B funding for its 4D Imaging Radar Chipset Solution. Arbe will use the funding to move to full production of its automotive radar chipset, which generates an image 100 times more detailed than any other solution on the market today.

Founded in 2015 by an elite team of semiconductor engineers, radar specialists, and data scientists, Arbe has secured $55 million from leading investors, including Canaan Partners Israel, iAngels, 360 Capital Partners, O.G. Tech Ventures, Catalyst CEL, AI Alliance, BAIC Capital, MissionBlue Capital, and OurCrowd. Arbe is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and has offices in the United States and China.

The Tel-aviv based company has developed a 4D Imaging Radar Chipset Solution, enabling high-resolution sensing for ADAS and autonomous vehicles. Arbe’s technology produces detailed images, separates, identifies, and tracks objects in high resolution in both azimuth and elevation in a long range and a wide field of view, and complemented by AI-based post-processing and SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping).

Its Phoenix radar chip supports more than 2000 virtual channels, tracking hundreds of objects simultaneously in a wide field of view at long-range with 30 frames per second of full scan. The company believes its solution pose a low cost alternative to the current LiDAR sensors in ADAS Systems and the future Autonomous Vehicles.

NIO to Build Mobileye’s Autonomous Taxi

By Yohai Schwiger, Techtime

Mobileye and the Chinese electric vehicle producer, NIO, are engaging in a strategic collaboration on the development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles (AV) for consumer markets in China and other major territories. As part of the planned cooperation, NIO will engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye, building on its Level 4 (L4) AV kit. NIO will mass-produce the system for Mobileye and also integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines for consumer markets and for Mobileye’s driverless ride-hailing services. NIO’s variants will target initial release in China, with plans to expand later into other global markets.

With NIO serving as its manufacturing partner, Mobileye’s self-driving system will be accessible to mass markets. NIO is the first large-scale automaker partner supplying vehicles to Mobileye’s future robotaxi fleet. By the collaboration with Mobileye, NIO aims to strength its position in the premium electric vehicle market.

Under the planned collaboration, Mobileye will provide the design of the self-driving system: L4 AV kit comprised of the Mobileye EyeQ system-on-chip, hardware, driving policy, safety software and mapping solution. NIO will provide engineering, integration and mass-production of Mobileye’s system for both consumer markets and for Mobileye’s mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications. NIO will also develop a variant of electric AV that Mobileye will use as robotaxis, deployed for ride-hailing services in global markets.

Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives
Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives

Mobileye’s AV kit

The L4 AV kit is a driverless technology solution designed to be integrated in vehicles with autonomous capabilities. It offers the necessary hardware to enable full autonomy in vehicles, including cameras, radars, lidars, cables, modem, GPS and additional mechanical components, all powered by the 5th generation EyeQ system-on-chip.

Mobileye’s proprietary reinforcement learning algorithms enable human-like driving skills for vehicle systems. Mobileye’s driving policy technology allows vehicles equipped with the AV kit, to negotiate with other human-driven vehicles on the road in complex situations.

Mobileye’s driving policy is complemented by Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) model, which helps ensure an autonomous vehicle will make safe decisions. RSS is an open and transparent formal model that provides safety parameters for AV decision-making, formalizing common sense human-centered concepts of what it means to drive safely. While the planning behind driving policy gets vehicles from Point A to Point B, RSS helps keep them safe along the way.

Mobileye, an Intel company, builds on its current ADAS systems to build autonomous driving systems. In the 2019’s third quarter, Mobileye achieved record quarter with 20% revenue growth, reaching $229 million revenues. Today, it powers ADAS systems in 300 car models with 27 OEM partners, and by the end of 2019, Mobileye expects to reach more than 50 million EyeQ chips shipped since 2008.

REE Emerged From Stealth Mode with High-tech Wheels

If you ask REE from Tel aviv what is different in the car of the future, it will probably say that new electric cars need new electric wheels. Last week the company emerged from its stealth mode with a revolutionary flat and modular platform, based on a new design of the traditional wheels. By integrating all of the components formerly found under the hood of the car into the wheel, REE offers optimal freedom of design and multiple body configurations on a single platform. It also reduces vehicle size and weight, and increases energy efficiency.

REE’s engineers had placed the motor, steering, suspension, drive train, sensing systems, brakes, thermal systems and electronics into the wheel. This design provides a low center of gravity to maximize efficiency and supports the vehicle’s agility and stability. It drastically reduces a vehicle’s footprint, weight, and improves both energy efficiency and performance.

According to the company, its technology provides the basis of any type of vehicle from a high-performance car able to do 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds to an off-road SUV with advanced active suspension technology. The platform can also be used as the base of a robotaxi or even a 10-ton cross country truck. “Until now, the industry has operated by making incremental improvements on the traditional design,” said Daniel Barel, Co-Founder and CEO of REE. “At REE, we believe that in order to hasten the automotive revolution we need to reinvent the wheel – quite literally.”

REE is already collaborating with leading OEMs and Tier-1/Tier-2 automotive companies including Mitsubishi Corporation, Musashi Seimitsu Industry, Tenneco, American Axle, FCA and NSK. Mitsubishi Corporation commented, “We can see REE’s technology has huge potential in the autonomous driving world, as it makesthe electrification process highly efficient with its new modular platform.”

Innoviz: $170M Funding Round for Solid-State LiDAR

Innoviz Technologies, from Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, has closed its Series C funding round with $170 Million secured. This is a much bigger round compare to the company’s expectation of $132M (March 2019). Innoviz provides solid-state LiDAR sensors and perception software to enable mass-production of autonomous vehicles, and had been chosen by BMW to supply the LiDAR sensors of its future autonomous car. The brings Innoviz’s total funding to $252 Million.

The announced that the funding will support several key initiatives, including the enhancement of Innoviz’s perception software. This software support the sensors by providing vehicles with a deep understanding of the 3D driving scene, including object detection, classification, segmentation and tracking. In addition, Innoviz has secured two computer vision industry experts, Dr. Raja Giryes and Or Shimshi, to serve as strategic collaborators to the software.

Dr. Raja’s experience includes senior academic and research roles and a doctorate in computer science. Or brings significant private sector experience managing teams and serving in advisory roles for computer vision, deep learning, machine learning and AI with Samsung Semiconductors, Intel, Qualcomm and Citi Bank. Innoviz will also accelerate its path to mass production and commercialization.

The company expects that its InnovizOne automotive-grade LiDAR solution to enter series production in 2021 for global automakers. The company’s high-performance, solid-state LiDAR solution InnovizPro is available now, offering better performance as well as mapping and other applications.