While autonomous vehicle companies have their sights set on fully self-driving cars, such vehicles remain far over the horizon. And the founders of Provizio believe many of those same emerging autonomous technologies could make today’s cars safer.
The Irish company today announced it has raised $6.2 million to accelerate development of its Accident Prevention Technology. Investors included Autonomous Stuff founder Bobby Hambrick; the founders of computer vision startup Movidius, which was bought by Intel; the European Innovation Council; and ACT Venture Capital.
Having developed the technology for its system, the company will now focus on finding deployment partners. Provizio CEO and cofounder Barry Lunn believes many of the building blocks for autonomy are ready to make a big impact today on road safety.
“Over 94% of accidents are caused by humans,” Lunn said. “So if we could just solve accidents, that’s a pretty big deal.”
Lunn has a background in vision technology and previously founded Arralis, a radar company that worked with partners like NASA, General Motors, and Boeing.
When he founded Provizio last year, Lunn was seeking to expand on his earlier radar work. The company has consequently developed a platform encompassing technologies such as AI operating at the edge and lidar, along with a radar technology designed to provide information captured from beyond the driver’s line-of-sight. Lunn said getting information at a distance and allowing the system to process it in real time is critical to alerting the driver to potential problems.
Of course, automakers have already made substantial advances in safety technologies, thanks to increasingly powerful sensors. But Provizio says the standard emergency braking system measures objects around 40 meters away, allowing for about one second of reaction time when driving on the highway.
The company’s combination of radar, vision sensors, and machine learning promises to increase that time and distance by a factor of 10. Lunn predicts that employing this kind of technology could avoid a large number of accidents in the short term. And he feels strongly that this makes more sense than reserving the technology for testing autonomous vehicles that may not be ready for years.
“Over the last 20 years, you’ve had billions and billions invested in the autonomous industry, and it’s had zero effect on road safety,” Lunn said. “Our goal is to get this technology into every vehicle on the road.”
Once Provizio’s technology is deployed, the company would have continuous access to the data being generated so the overall product can continue to learn.
“We look at it as when you put our platform on the vehicle, that’s the first day of learning,” Lunn said. “The vehicle is learning by itself because we’ve got AI on the edge. But we’re using that AI in the center as well, so you get smarter all the time. We’re going to be constantly learning. And in time, you want everyone to be learning from everybody else.”
Rather than going directly to automakers, the company will sell its technology to major auto suppliers, also known as Tier Ones. These companies have relationships with the industry, which Lunn thinks offers a better path to adoption.
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