The Autonomist

Toyota invests in Israeli AI start-up

Toyota Ventures AI is backing an automotive spin-off from Israeli start-up Cortica with partners ContinentalBMW iVentures and Jerusalem-based VC fund OurCrowd.

The venture – dubbed, confusingly, Cartica AI – will use Cortica’s deep-learning algorithms which have been built up over the company’s 10-year life and promise better understanding of the road context, lower computing power requirements and fewer training data set requirements.

Cortica emerged from the famed Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa and focussed on the biomimicry of how animals perceive the world around them. It says its AI simulates the natural processes of the mammal cortex and enables machines to interact with the world in a similar way without human input.

The first automotive application of the approach is Cartex 1.0, a developer kit for integrating the software into advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). The technology is backed by more than 200 patents.

Cortica co-founder and CEO Igal Raichelgauz will led the new venture.

Toyota AI Ventures founding managing director Jim Adler told the press: ‘We’re grateful for the opportunity to support a start-up working to change the way vehicles perceive the world.

‘Cartica AI is the type of disruptive technology we look for at Toyota AI Ventures, and I’m excited to welcome them to our portfolio'.

‘Cartica AI introduces a series of important technological advancements for an OEM ranging from low compute requirements and low energy consumption, to a transparent decision-making process of the computer vision-based perception stack. 

'Updates to the system can be included within minutes without the need to re-run vast amounts of training data like neural network-based approaches," said Kasper Sage, Partner BMW i Ventures.

The Series B investment sums have not been disclosed.