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EyeVi, an Estonian startup, plans to build out tools to automate road data capture to improve maintenance and operations and expand into U.S. markets. EyeVi provides road service surveyors, repair crews, and municipalities with computer-vision hardware and AI-driven SaaS to map and identify road infrastructure needs.
“We are developing a platform that can survey the road for about one-hundredth the cost of manual approaches today,” EyeVi CEO Gaspar Anton told VentureBeat. Anton conceived of the idea about a decade ago as a driver for Google Streetview. Now EyeVi, which has raised $2 million in seed funding, is extending the same concept to support road operations and maintenance.
Anton said the biggest bottleneck to improving road maintenance is overlaying data from different systems and surveyors into one comprehensive digital twin that can help streamline planning and communications. For example, one system may collect data about the different layers inside the road, another will capture data about potholes, and a third captures data about the chemical content of the pavement. The future lies in automating the process of combining these layers into one digital platform to see how changes in traffic, weather, and different maintenance and construction practices affect road quality.
Closing the funding gap
EyeVi and a bevy of competitors hope to dramatically reduce the cost of maintaining roads and the ensuing traffic jams caused by repair operations. In the U.S. alone, city, state, and federal highway authorities spent an estimated $177 billion on roads and bridges in 2017. And experts warn this doesn’t account for a backlog of about $786 billion in underfunding, exacerbated by gaps in a gas tax funding model that neglected the impacts of inflation and fuel efficiency.
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More accurate and automated digital twins of roads could help close this funding gap by improving data about how variations in construction techniques road formulations translate into road quality and by prioritizing maintenance and repairs
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is in the early stages of rolling out a more cost-effective system for pavement renewal that promises tens of billions in savings. Early results from the Washington Department of Transportation suggest they could see a 30% cost savings over the life of new pavement and a 50% reduction in construction-related traffic jams. Scaling these kinds of results nationwide might trim $50 billion for the same level of infrastructure and improve traffic. New services and tools to automate the process for capturing digital twins of road infrastructure as it is built and how it breaks over time could improve the automation required to scale these programs up to more efficiently.
A busy AI-powered road ahead
Absolute Reports estimated the market for road inspection systems will grow from $288.4 million to $423.7 million between 2021 and 2027, led by companies such as Data Collection Limited, Kurabo, ARRB Systems, and International Cybernetics. EyeVi and competitors like Pavemetrics and RoadBotics are working on AI-powered road monitoring SaaS offerings to accelerate digital transformation for road management agencies. These services will complement other capabilities companies offer that crowdsource dashcam and vehicle telematics data to gather more fine-grained details about traffic patterns, road texture, and traction like Nexar, Tactical Mobility, and NIRA Dynamics.
Gaspar said this investment will allow the company to improve and automate its process to scale its service from about 20,000 miles surveyed last year to about 1 million in 2023.
EyeVi’s funding round was led by ff Venture Capital, with the participation of RKKVC, Decacorn Capital, Iron Wolf Capital, Superangel, Spring Capital, Kaamos Group, and several Estonian business angels including Väino Kaldoja, the founder of AuveTech, and Taavi Rõivas, the former prime minister of Estonia.
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