BMW i Ventures Invests in AI for Autonomous Cars via Recogni

News | July 31st, 2019 by 1
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BMW’s investment arm – BMW i Ventures division – announced yet another addition to its portfolio: Recogni. The US-based company, founded by RK Anand, along with Ashwini Choudhary, Eye-Fi founder Eugene Feinberg, former Lilium sensor systems engineer Gilles Backhus, and Valerie Chan, seeks to solve the problem of processing power for autonomous cars.

According to the San Jose outfit, autonomous cars might have issues with processing all the data gathered by the huge amount of sensors installed on the vehicles. Thus, the founders created a vision-oriented artificial intelligence platform for autonomous vehicles. “The ability to process sensor data on the edge efficiently and in real-time is essential in the development of autonomous vehicles,” said Marcus Behrendt, partner BMW i Ventures. “We believe that Recogni has the right approach and an experienced team to help solve these critical issues as the automotive industry continues on its path towards semi-autonomous and fully autonomous and vehicles.”

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Not only is the solution developed by Recogni very fast (it can perform up to 1 peta operations per second) but it is also very efficient, consuming about 8 watts of power thanks to an approach that offloads central processing to multiple points on a vehicle. Their integrated module comprises three passively cooled image sensors, an external depth sensor, and and a custom inferencing chip. It is able to capture and analyze up to three uncompressed 8-12 MP streams at 60 frames per second, achieving a claimed 70% compute efficiency in typical vision applications (or up to 500 times better than several leading platforms).

Initially, Recogni will target Level 2 vehicles but has its sights set on Level 3 and 4 units as well. The company managed to raise $25 million in a Series A round with investors such as BMW i Ventures, Toyota Ventures and Osram’s Fluxunit. Recogni plans to use the funds to deliver the most capable inferencing system to enable state of the art sensor fusion of visual and depth sensor data while continuing to grow its top-tier engineering team.

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