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Recogni launches with $25 million to develop AI processing for autonomous vehicles

A US-German startup called Recogni has raised $25 million in Series A funding to make “fully-autonomous vehicles a reality”.

Until now, Recogni has been in “stealth mode” while it develops its “high-performance, low-power AI processing for autonomous vehicles”.

Recogni says it has designed a vision-oriented artificial intelligence platform for autonomous vehicles.

The funding round was led by GreatPoint Ventures with participation from:

  • Toyota AI Ventures;
  • BMW i Ventures;
  • Faurecia, an automotive technology company;
  • Fluxunit, the venture capital arm of lighting and photonics company Osram; and
  • DNS Capital.

As the automotive industry is transitioning to autonomous vehicles, a network of computers is needed to drive these vehicles efficiently on a limited energy budget.

While these AI systems are trained offline, they need to process the sensor data in real-time in the vehicle.

Today, autonomous vehicles have hit the “processing efficiency wall”, according to some experts, and are unable to transition to Level 3+ autonomy and beyond.

Level 3 refers to the six levels of automotive autonomy that international engineering association SAE has developed, which goes from Level 0 for no automation to Level 5 for full automation.

Recogni is focused on creating high-performance and low-power AI processing to help make autonomous vehicles a reality.

Blog post: Recogni optimizes performance, power, and visual range for autonomous vehicles

Founded in 2017 and headquartered in San Jose, Calif., the company has operations in Munich, Germany and is positioning itself to revolutionize perception processing for Level 2+ autonomous vehicles.

Using a Vision Cognition Processor, Recogni will solve the endpoint inferencing problem with autonomous vehicles efficiently and change the trajectory of full level 3, 4, and 5 autonomy.

The company’s founders possess deep industry experience in system design, AI, vision, and custom silicon design.

Ashok Krishnamurthi, managing partner at GreatPoint Ventures, says: “We see a huge opportunity here to truly achieve the goal of full vehicle autonomy with the Recogni platform.

“While scoping the market, we realized that most of the neural network accelerator technologies are either optimized for performance or power – none are optimized for both.

“We believe that the Recogni platform is orders of magnitude superior to anything we have seen. Further, this is a team we’ve known for years and have backed in the past.

“They are the right group to not only develop this promising technology but also get it into the hands of the auto OEMs [original equipment manufacturers.”

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.

Recogni is currently in discussions with multiple auto manufacturers, to provide them with the full suite of enabling technology from modules to the software.

Jim Adler, founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures, says: “Autonomous systems are becoming smarter, driven by more powerful edge processing. The next opportunity is to achieve this higher machine intelligence at much lower power.

“We are excited by Recogni’s inference architecture for high-performance, low-power AI computing at the edge, and look forward to working with the team to build a world of safe and efficient autonomous systems.”

Marcus Behrendt, partner at BMW i Ventures, says: “The ability to process sensor data on the edge efficiently and in real-time is essential in the development of autonomous vehicles.

“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 vehicles.”

Sebastian Stamm, investment manager at Fluxunit – Osram Ventures, says: “We truly believe in the sensor fusion based on Camera, RADAR and LIDAR, but computational requirements for those algorithms remains one of the critical bottlenecks in autonomous driving today.

“Recogni solves this problem with a unique and disruptive approach – we are proud to back this team of world-class IC and system developers, as well as automotive AI experts.”

RK Anand, CEO of Recogni, says: “The issues within the Level 2+, 3, 4 and 5 autonomy ecosystem range from capturing/generating training data to inferring in real-time. These vehicles need datacenter class performance while consuming minuscule amounts of power.

“Leveraging our background in machine learning, computer vision, silicon, and system design, we are engineering a fundamentally new system that benefits the auto industry with very high efficiency at the lowest power consumption.

“This round, one of the largest initial venture rounds raised by any AI silicon company in the space, is testament to our experience and responsible approach.”