The Paris-based startup Outsight has raised €18 million in seed funding, tying for the largest seed funding round in Europe this year, to develop AI-powered, 3D sensor cameras for drones, autonomous vehicles, and smart city infrastructure, according to Venture Beat.
Outsight’s 3D Semantic Camera can not only perceive, but also interpret its surroundings and environment. It can recognize objects, determine their material composition, and take context into account. The technology is the first to offer this ‘Full Situation Awareness’ in a mass-produced package, and Outsight says data from the camera will help speed up machine learning algorithms.
Immediately, Outsight will offer cameras to aid with monitoring in public spaces like airports, venues, and malls. Eventually, though, they say another line of cameras will help power self-driving cars.
According to cofounder and CEO Cedric Hutchings:
“We see the first applications in smart cities and smart monitoring infrastructure. The environment is fixed, and it has fewer constraints than putting [cameras] on vehicles. We’ll have a version for autonomous vehicles, but that’s a longer journey.”
Their vehicle version will first improve safety and reliability for assisted driving systems in construction and mining equipment as well as airplanes, and could ultimately guide fully autonomous vehicles.
Hutchings is the former CEO and cofounder of healthtech startup Witchings, acquired in 2016 by Nokia for about $200 million.
The seed funding round was led by Demeter Partners, the BNP Paribas bank, and SPDG Ventures.
“Our 3D Semantic Camera is not only a new device but a change of paradigm where Situation Awareness becomes plug and play for the first time: we’re creating a new category of solutions that will unleash tremendous business value. We’re proud of having the support of such solid and knowledgeable investors that share our ambition”, said cofounder and President Raul Bravo.
The company launched in April of this year. They debuted a demonstration version of the camera in August, and a commercial version of the smart monitoring camera is expected early in 2020. Outsight includes 30 employees in Paris, Helsinki, and San Francisco.
Among their next challenges will be scaling up production, and Hutchings is currently in search of a manufacturing facility in Europe capable of producing the cameras in high volume.
Photo by Dllu [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]