Guardian Optical Technologies, a computer vision startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel, today announced that it has raised $2.5 million, extending an earlier funding round led by the Toyota-backed Mirai Creation Fund. Union Ventures led the round, with participation from B&E Equities and a number of private investors.
Guardian CEO Gil Dotan told VentureBeat in an email that the company will use the capital to hire more staff members, better support ongoing projects with customers, and “increase the rate of development.”
“Passenger-aware vehicles are becoming more of a necessity as technology in the automotive sector becomes more advanced,” Dotan said. “Monitoring the interior of a cabin is a key component to ensuring safety and an optimized experience for passengers.”
Guardian, which was founded in 2015, is actively prototyping an in-car platform that improves passenger safety. Its specially designed sensors capture high-resolution videos and three-dimensional depth maps simultaneously, while its computer vision algorithms keep tabs on passengers and objects in the cabin.
The system can detect when riders come aboard and even pinpoint the door through which they entered. Moreover, it can estimate riders’ physical dimensions, making it well-suited for tasks like monitoring young children in the back seats of cars or adjusting the force of an airbag’s deployment in a collision.
“We can classify people and objects inside the cabin without direct line of sight,” Dotan said.
Guardian’s engineering team went to great lengths to keep costs low — the most expensive component of the system is the processor. Dotan said that it’s “cost-effective” measured against comparable solutions, and that because it eliminates the need for special sensors in seat belts, air cushions, and elsewhere, it could save the auto industry $200 million a year.
In the future, Dotan hopes to deploy the platform in buses, trains, and other forms of commercial and public transportation, where it could provide real-time occupancy maps and flag behaviors like vandalism and violence.
Luckily for Guardian Optical, there isn’t much competition in the in-car computer vision market. Owl is an always-on camera that mounts to a car’s rearview mirror, monitoring for break-ins and collisions, not ambient movement. And Nauto’s in-car monitoring solution is tailored for fleet management.