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Read What This Off-road Autonomy Vehicle Software Startup is Doing after a $10M Seed Funding

We all know how Artificial Intelligence can improve self-driving and driverless experience. Most autonomous vehicle software companies provide AI-assisted features that meet the regular driving conditions, especially in cities. However, a Seattle-based AI startup company is taking a different “route” to help drivers with cross-country movement and tactical maneuver. And, the startup just received $10 million in seed funding to turn its vision into a market reality for the customers. Meet, Overland AI, a Seattle-based pioneer in off-road ground vehicle autonomy, that most caters to the customers from the defense sector.

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What is autonomous vehicle software?

Autonomous vehicle software is a programmable system to manage a complex set of automotive hardware, data, integrated toolchains, and simulation frameworks, that are used to develop autonomous vehicles or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The software integrates different types of data for AI ML model development, simulation, validation and hardware innovation in a scalable format. These models are mostly built in-house with automakers, or in AI labs with a DevOps team to enhance accuracy of output and improve safety. Many organizations are coming together to develop autonomous driver software for the industry. For example, Google created the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) in collaboration with Audi, General Motors, Honda, and Hyundai. Since its inception in 2015, many renowned automotive companies have joined the OTT to develop safer technologies for a seamless driving experience using mobile (Android) data.

AI-powered autonomous vehicle software development is a fast-moving industry at the moment. In the next 8 years, it is expected to grow at 33% CAGR¹. While the company just fetched its seed funding, the leadership itself consists of pioneers in robotics engineering for off-road autonomy solutions.

The Overland AI teams  has been working with the problems in off-road movements, and they developed in-house research capacity before launching the company.

The Overland AI team

Byron Boots, the CEO of the company, is the Amazon Endowed Professor of Machine Learning at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at University of Washington (UW). He is leading the company into a realm that is ruled by the AI automation megatrends for the driverless economy. In addition to his CEO role, Boots developed the Boots’ Robot Learning Lab at UW. This lab has pioneered new machine learning approaches to robotics and control, and has collaborated with the U.S. Army Research Lab and DARPA on several research programs over the past 10 years.

Why do we need Autonomous Driverless Vehicles?

ADVs are essential to the ongoing revolution in the automotive industry. Companies like Overland AI are transforming the way consumers experience mobility. From reducing stress during commutation to assisting elderly during their transit through emergency situations, ADVs are more than just a technology bubble. According to a report, ADVs and other related technologies could pump in $300-$400 billion in revenues by 2035².

Passenger car advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous-driving systems could create $300 billion to $400 billion in revenues by 2035.

 

 

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So, what can we expect from Overland AI in the next 2-3 years?

Overland AI is planning to increase its headcount in the engineering department. This would bolster the Autonomy Vehicle Software product innovation, supporting the development and testing of OverDrive. OverDrive software is a vehicle-agnostic solution for enabling off-road autonomous navigation. It can maneuver in most environmental conditions at a decent speed of up to 45 mph.

Before this funding round, the US Army and Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) had awarded a $18.6 million ceiling prototype Other Transaction (OT) agreement to Overland AI.

The agreement mentioned the role of the OverDrive technology to drive autonomous vehicles capable of traversing complex terrain in contested areas. With new financing, the Seattle-based autonomous vehicle software company is poised to meet the growing demand for autonomous off-road experiences, powered by next-gen automation and AI-based safety features.

Graphical map of an Overland AI vehicle path over rough terrain

In addition, Overland AI was recently selected as a performer on Phase II of the DARPA RACER program to continue advanced capability development and demonstration of OverDrive in operationally-relevant terrain. The demonstrations feature OverDrive integrated into heavy tracked platforms similar in size to forthcoming robotic and optionally manned combat/fighting vehicles, and the lightweight wheeled vehicles already in use.

Byron Boots, co-founder and CEO of Overland AI
Byron Boots, co-founder and CEO of Overland AI

At the time of this announcement, Byron Boots, co-founder and CEO of Overland AI said – “We are committed to the advancement of ground vehicle autonomy to support national security and minimize risk to our warfighters. With this funding, we can accelerate development and create high-performance ground autonomy software designed for un-crewed vehicles in any contested terrain.”

References:

  1. Autonomous Vehicle Development Platform Market Size By Component

  2. Autonomous driving’s future: Convenient and connected
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