RoadBotics, developer of advanced computer vision technology for inspecting roads and infrastructure, has raised $3.9 million in its series seed round of financing, led by Boston-based Hyperplane Venture Capital.
The capital will help the company to change the way engineering firms, local governments and municipalities manage and maintain roadways and other infrastructure.
RoadBotics, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, is a rapidly-growing two-year-old company that uses deep learning to assess roadways for 78 cities, towns and counties across the US and Australia.
The company emerged from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in December 2016 and grew out of Carnegie Mellon’s extensive research in autonomous vehicles.
Co-founded by Christoph Mertz, Ph.D., Benjamin Schmidt, Ph.D., and Mark DeSantis, RoadBotics has used the same technology that moves autonomous vehicles – deep learning-based image processing – to create a product that can be used to efficiently assess road quality.
RoadBotics uses a proprietary app and standard smartphone, placed on the windshield of any vehicle, to collect roadway image data.
The image data is uploaded to the RoadBotics platform where deep learning is applied to isolate the road from other objects in each image, assess the road condition, and automatically generate a condition rating for the road surface.
This objective rating is based on the presence, type and density of the road surface features and distresses that pavement engineers are trained to identify when visually inspecting roads.
Finally, RoadBotics renders the complete assessment on its interactive, online mapping platform called RoadWay.
“Continuously monitoring a road network is a hard job, particularly when they can stretch for thousands of miles. It is costly and time-intensive to put trained engineers out on the road to perform assessments,” said Schmidt, RoadBotics’ CTO.
“Improving the quality of the world’s roads is one of the most viable ways to utilise automated, low-cost, high resolution inspection technology and RoadBotics is leading the way.”
Since securing their first customer in June 2017, RoadBotics has seen rapid growth in customers from local governments, counties and engineering firms. One such customer, the city of Savannah, is using RoadBotics as the foundation for their data-driven infrastructure strategy.
“RoadBotics will allow us to better assess the overall condition of city roadways and increase the accuracy of the data collected, ultimately enabling us to more effectively manage our infrastructure replacement,” said Heath Lloyd, Savannah’s Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer.
In Australia, RoadBotics is partnering with leading engineering firm Fulton Hogan to offer its technology across the South Pacific.
RoadBotics is part of the growing ‘Urban Tech’ sector that is attracting significant venture funding. Along with Hyperplane Venture Capital, RoadBotics has received financing from several prominent urban tech investors, including Urban-Us, Urban-X, Radical Ventures, and Ekistic Ventures, as well as the Wharton Alumni Angels and Innovation Works.