driveblocks, the autonomous driving software startup, has successfully garnered €2.2 million (roughly $2.36 million) in its recent seed funding round. The raised capital is earmarked for the advancement of the company's innovative Mapless Autonomy Platform, a system poised to revolutionize the way commercial vehicles navigate.
The brainchild of Dr. Stephan Matz and Dr. Alexander Wishnewski, driveblocks emerged victorious in the $1 million Indy Autonomous Challenge, backed by a team from Technische Universität München. Established in late 2021, the firm prides itself on its unique navigation system, which relies on perception rather than rapidly obsolete maps.
Described as a modular system, the Mapless Autonomy Platform encompasses software modules proficient in raw data interpretation, instantaneous vehicle environment detection, and the fusion of sensor data. The platform's foundation rests on Transformer Neural Networks, the groundbreaking architecture behind recent enhancements in Large Language Models (LLMs).
According to Dr. Wishnewski, the platform's prowess stems from the blend of "the latest breakthroughs in machine learning with explainable algorithms for sensor data fusion," enabling it to deliver unparalleled performance while adhering to safety standards.
A partnership with pepper motion saw the creation of a state-of-the-art development truck by driveblocks. This vehicle, laden with a plethora of cameras, LiDARs, and a drive-by-wire system, has successfully demonstrated the Mapless Autonomy Platform's capabilities. It completed a journey between Munich and Bolzano, tackling the demanding Brenner Pass en route. Furthermore, the platform is currently undergoing trials in diverse sectors, including agriculture, container logistics, and earthmoving.
Dr. Matz articulated the company's vision, stating,
"With the Mapless Autonomy Platform, we aim to deliver the future of autonomous driving technology – one that’s safe, dependable, and customer-ready, both on and off-road."
Prominent contributors in the funding round included Rethink Ventures, Bayern Kapitl, Joachim Drees (ex-CEO of MAN SE and MAN Truck & Bus SE), and Friedrich & Wagner Holding.
In addition to enhancing the Mapless Autonomy Platform, driveblocks is gearing up to broaden its field tests, fortify its data management infrastructure, and strengthen ties with clientele and fleet operators. Certifications for its perception and sensor fusion components are also on the company's horizon.
Targeting integration with Tier-1 suppliers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), driveblocks aspires to embed its software into machinery and vehicles to promote secure autonomous driving on a variety of terrains. Its collaborative endeavors currently encompass key players such as a leading Tier 1 in Germany, TIER IV, Apex.AI, and Schaeffler ByWire.