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Driverless Simulation Startup Cognata Completes Series B Round, Raises $18.5 Million

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【Summary】To make 3D simulations as realistic as possible, the company uses computer vision and deep learning to generate virtual environments. The platform contains scenarios that closely mimic real cities worldwide.

Michael Cheng    Oct 23, 2018 10:08 AM PT
Driverless Simulation Startup Cognata Completes Series B Round, Raises $18.5 Million
author: Michael Cheng   

Automotive companies are leveraging cutting-edge technology to reduce time-related challenges in bringing autonomous vehicles to commercial markets. When it comes to testing driverless cars, virtual simulations have become a useful tool for streamlining development.

Cognata, a startup that offers AI-powered virtual environments for developers of self-driving platforms, is currently pioneering this unique niche in the nascent sector. The company recently completed a Series B funding round, which raised $18.5 million and attracted several key investors.

Series B Details

The Series B round was led by California-based Scale Venture Partners, with expertise in mid-stage businesses. Other notable investments made by the venture capital firm includes DocuSign, HubSpot and FrontBridge Technologies (acquired by Microsoft). Existing investors of Cognata, such as Emerge, Maniv Mobility and Airbus Ventures also participated in the Series B round. During the event, the startup welcomed Global IoT Technology Ventures as a new investor.

Cognata plans to use the fresh funds to expand its global footprint. The business is aiming to launch offices in the US, Europe and Asia. It will also allocate funds to expand the startup's engineering team.

"As autonomous vehicles get closer to market, automakers must have a comprehensive simulation solution in place to meet the stringent training demands," said Rory O'Driscoll, Partner at Scale Venture Partners. 

"Cognata's simulation platform is a critical component for the development of self-driving vehicles and the future of the industry."

As per the terms of the funding round, O'Driscoll will join Cognata's board of directors.

To date, the automotive startup has raised approximately $23.5 million, spread across three funding rounds. In 2017, the company's Series A round enabled the establishment to receive $5 million (led by Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm Emerge). In its latest funding event, Cognata raised almost three times the previous amount, suggesting its autonomous simulation services are in great demand and will continue to fuel critical aspects of development.

Virtual Training for Autonomous Vehicles

The Israel-based startup has already attracted a leading auto brand to use its services – Audi's self-driving arm (Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH). Earlier this year, the two parties announced a long-term strategic partnership. According to a press release, the collaboration entails access to the startup's full product lifecycle simulation solution.

To make 3D simulations as realistic as possible, the company uses computer vision and deep learning to generate virtual environments. The platform contains scenarios that closely mimic real cities worldwide. Numerous elements are open for customization, such as lane markings, buildings, plants and traffic signs.

This is a huge advantage for developers interested in testing their autonomous driving software in local areas, without needing to apply for permits, deploy costly vehicles and hire human drivers (for monitoring and intervention). During a simulation, Cognata's platform records massive amounts of data, including the actions of the vehicle's virtual sensors and cameras.

"Simulation is critical to driving autonomous vehicle technology forward by validating the technology in a virtual environment, where the AI software can be trained before getting deployed on the road," explained Danny Atsmon, CEO and Founder of Cognata.

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