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Toyota, Volvo Lead $31 Million Investment in AI-based Vehicle Inspection Startup UVeye

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【Summary】Israel-based startup UVeye announced today it raised an additional $31 million in funding, led by Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, Volvo Cars and W. R. Berkley Corporation. The company developed a unique AI-based computer vision solution for vehicle inspections, including inspections of autonomous and ride-sharing vehicles.

Eric Walz    Jul 22, 2019 1:15 PM PT
Toyota, Volvo Lead $31 Million Investment in AI-based Vehicle Inspection Startup UVeye

Israel-based startup UVeye announced today it raised an additional $31 million in funding, led by Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm or the Toyota Group, Volvo Cars and W. R. Berkley Corporation, bringing total funds raised to $35 million. The company developed a unique AI-based computer vision solution for vehicle inspections, including inspections of autonomous and ride-sharing vehicles.

UVeye's vehicle inspection process resembles a "drive-thru" where the vehicle is scanned by a suit of sensors that can detect external and mechanical flaws. The computer vision system can identify anomalies as small as 2 millimeters in size, including modifications or foreign objects along the undercarriage and around the exterior of the vehicle. 

UVeye's technology enables vehicle manufacturers, logistic operators and rental-car companies to perform automatic vehicle inspection leveraging cameras combined with artificial intelligence specifically developed for detecting abnormalities. UVeye says its system can accuracy diagnose potential mechanical problems and improve efficiency with little human intervention.

"This latest investment including leading automotive strategic partners is an important signal that we believe paves the way for UVeye to become the standard of automotive inspection and safety," said Amir Hever, CEO of UVeye. "We are delighted to have world-class companies in their respective sectors endorse our game-changing auto-scanning solution."

Volvo Cars and Toyota Tsusho intend to use UVeye's inspection systems at various sites internationally, including Volvo's assembly plants and dealerships. Toyota will use the UVeye technology at distribution and used-car centers throughout the Japanese auto market. 

"Premium quality standards are at the core of the Volvo brand, and we are intrigued by the possibilities that UVeye's technology offers," said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. "This type of advanced scanning technology could allow us to take the next step in quality."

UVeye already has existing partnerships with automakers Skoda and Daimler and Hever said other automakers want to work with the company.

For the undercarriage scan, UVEye uses multiple hi-resolution cameras are positioned at different angles to produce a 3-dimensional ultra-sharp digital image of vehicle's undercarriage. The 3D view scans hard-to-see places, so that nothing goes unnoticed. Unlike a human inspection which idles the vehicle for hours, UVEye's scan takes just several seconds.

UVeye uses advanced image processing and machine-learning algorithms to automatically detects potential issues with a vehicle and alerts the operator. Using machine-learning algorithms, the AI-based system get better over time for more accurate scans.

A quick scan can detect vehicle frame damage, inspect the wheels, brake system, exhaust system, as well as the vehicle's glass and tire condition and air pressure. A underhood scan can also be used to detect fluid leaks. 

The scanning process can be used throughout the entire lifecycle of the vehicle. The technology is being actively deployed today across many use cases, from the vehicle manufacturing line to preventive maintenance.

UVeye's first line of products were first deployed all over the world in the homeland security and defense market for detecting weapons, explosives, or other threats. UVeye saw the opportunity to use the same technology in the automotive industry to detect mechanical issues. UVeye introduced its latest line of automotive products this year. 

Scanning Autonomous Vehicles and Ride-Sharing Fleets

Among the applications for UVeye's inspection technology is ride-sharing fleets, as they grow to become an alterative to car ownership. To address this growing market, UVeye plans to have installations in all major cities globally, allowing car-sharing vehicles to pass over the system and detect any mechanical problems or damages that may either hinder performance, or result in additional servicing costs in future.

The technology can also be used for autonomous fleets of vehicles, including shuttles and autonomous delivery vehicles where there is no human driver present to report any potential problems.

Human drivers are generally good at detecting mechanical problems with their vehicles. For example, a brake noise, vibration or knocking noise from the suspension might prompt a vehicle owner to bring a vehicle in to a repair shop for a mechanical inspection. 

However, the self-driving vehicles of the future will likely not have a human onboard that can potentially detect and report any mechanical problem that requires attention, so UVeye's scanning technology offers a possible solution.

Since its inception in 2017, UVeye said it generated millions of vehicle scans and the company said its anomaly detection accuracy rate has exceeded its clients needs.

With more than 100 employees, UVeye has already deployed vehicle inspection systems at dozens of locations worldwide. The company has headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, and a satellite office in Stamford, Connecticut.

The latest round of funding enables the company to further expand, as it aims to make its scanning technology the global standard for automatic vehicle inspections.  

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