Israeli startup Ottopia closes $3 million in seed funding to combine AI with remote humans to solve autonomous driving problem
The headlines are filled with how autonomous vehicles (AVs) are changing mobility and they will transform everything from retail to transit. However, there are still challenges to autonomous vehicles. It may take years before fully autonomous cars operate on all public roads. Within certain boundaries, AVs can drive themselves 99 percent of the time; however, there is a growing consensus that the last one percent is still many years away. That is where teleoperation comes in. An AV can call a human back-up to help it resolve unpredictable or unsafe situations.
Today, early-stage teleoperation platforms provide support by handing over complete control to a remote human driver. That increases the likelihood of human error in situations that are already complex, like driving around road construction or a crowded street. One Israeli startup is on a mission to bridge the gap and bring AVs to 100 percent autonomy.
Ottopia is a Tel-Aviv, Israel-based tech startup building the the first ever platform that enables remote humans to guide vehicles in a way that is safe, reliable, scalable and cyber-secure. With their platform, remote humans are engaged whenever a vehicle isn’t sure what to do. Their approach? Create the best of both worlds by combining AI with remote humans to solve autonomous driving and create a new one. Today, Ottopia announced it has closed $3 million in seed funding to expand its R&D team and collaborate with AV companies to prove the versatility and enhanced safety of its platform. The round was led by MizMaa Ventures with participation from Glory Ventures, Plug and Play and NextGear.
Unlike other solutions, Ottopia’s software platform allows the human operator and the car’s AI to work together during a remote intervention. The human assists the AV with decision-making in a complex scenario. The AV then executes that decision and navigates with a full suite of sensors and safety measures engaged.
Amit Rosenzweig (CEO) and Leon Altarac (CTO) founded Ottopia in 2018. Prior to that, Leon founded the Robotics and AV branch of the Israeli Army, where he spent the last decade designing various AVs and teleoperation solutions for real-life missions. Amit was Head of Product for Microsoft’s leading cybersecurity offering, as well as VP of Product for a low-latency video transmission company. Before that, he led R&D projects for Israeli intelligence and graduated from the prestigious Talpiot program.
“Autonomous vehicles are inevitable, but safe deployment is still a core roadblock. Major players agree that there is a real, unmet need in this domain,” said Aaron Applbaum from MizMaa Ventures. “We are thrilled to partner with Ottopia’s talented and battle-tested team to solve the problem of safe teleoperation. Their approach and drive give us full confidence that they’ll succeed.”
“Our platform addresses all the core challenges in teleoperation, like network connectivity, safety and cybersecurity,” said Amit Rosenzweig, CEO of Ottopia, “And the feedback so far from key players is very encouraging.”