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Driverless Startup Apex.AI Completes Series A Round, Raises $15.5 Million

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【Summary】Palo Alto-based Apex.AI offers a robust modular stack that caters to integration with third-party automotive software.

Michael Cheng    Nov 20, 2018 10:32 AM PT
Driverless Startup Apex.AI Completes Series A Round, Raises $15.5 Million
author: Michael Cheng   

Without human assistance, autonomous vehicles must be capable of operating on the road in a reliable manner. Bugs, security concerns and random system crashes should be minimized in order to ensure smooth rides inside driverless cars.

Palo Alto-based Apex.AI is working on addressing such challenges using optimized robotics software. To maintain its progress, the startup completed a Series A financing round earlier this month. The event raised a total of $15.5 million and welcomed two new investors to the business.  

Apex.AI offers a robust modular software stack that caters to integration with third-party automotive software. Instead of focusing on peak performance, the startup is striving for increased dependability through the following products: Apex.OS and Apex.Autonomy.

Series A Funding Round

The Series A round welcomed new investors, which was led by venture capital firm Canaan Partners. Lightspeed Venture Partners also participated in the financing event. Prior to the funding round, Apex.AI was operating in stealth mode.

With headquarters in California, Canaan Partners has investments spread out in pharmaceuticals and medical technology. In the automotive industry, the firm has participated in several events, including a seed round launched by Drivetime. The startup is developing a platform that enables passengers to play games inside vehicles.

On the other hand, Lightspeed Venture Partners is active in cloud computing and finance sectors, with recent investments in Netskope and AppZen. Apex.AI did not clarify how the new funds will be used by the startup.

"What excited us about Apex is they are solving a real problem," explained Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka, a Partner at Canaan.

"Now that we have the right technological pieces in place, how do we move this from R&D into mass production — fully self-driving vehicles for the average consumer to use. As that happens, the number one question will be how do we ensure that this vehicle in this whole system works 100 percent of the time."

Making Autonomous Cars Safer

As mentioned earlier, the startup's primary objective is to make autonomous driving platforms more reliable and safer. Apex.AI aims to accomplish its goals through the Robot Operating System (ROS), which is open source and used widely by Microsoft, Amazon and Intel (just to name a few). The startup's software is an optimized version of ROS that is suitable for self-driving cars.

To boost reliability, the business is introducing redundant features into the ROS. This will ensure that single failures are properly isolated, so that such unforeseen occurrences do not result in system-wide failures.

Furthermore, the company's version of ROS is extremely flexible and equipped with agnostic capabilities. Other self-driving platforms, including drones, flying cars and more, can benefit from the optimized ROS. The software will be certified to ISO 26262 by next year.

"Most companies have expertise building consumer applications, but not a lot of expertise, resources or people to work on safety-critical processes," said Jan Becker, Co-founder of Apex.AI.

Becker, as well as Co-founder Dejan Pangercic, previously worked for Bosch. Both individuals have more than 20 years of experience developing software for driverless cars.

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