GÖTEBORG, Sweden — Volvo Group Venture Capital AB yesterday announced that it has invested in Apex.AI, which is developing a safety-certified software framework for autonomous vehicles.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Apex.AI was founded in 2017 and said it is building an “automotive-grade version of ROS,” the open-source Robot Operating System. The company said that Apex.OS, its version of ROS, will be more reliable than others and comply with the ISO 26262 functional safety standard, helping companies bring self-driving vehicles to market.
Dejan Pangercic, co-founder and chief technology officer of Apex.AI, is a founding member of the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee of the Open Robotics organization. In May, the company added Karl-Thomas Neumann, who had previously served as an executive at Continental AG and Volkswagen AG, to its board of directors, and it planned to open offices in Munich, Germany.
Apex.OS had a pilot release in 2018, and it was released this year with the expectation of safety certification next year. According to Apex.AI, it abstracts “the complexity of underlying hardware, middleware, kernel, interfaces, and drivers into simple-to-use, robust, reliable, safe, and secure APIs [application programming interfaces].”
Apex.AI part of investor strategies
Volvo Group Venture Capital is the investment unit of the Volvo Group. The Swedish automaker said that it is focusing its investments on its strategic priorities and trends it expects to shape the future of transportation. They include autonomous systems, connected services, and electric vehicles. The unit’s scope is global, with a focus on Europe and North America, said Volvo.
“Apex.AI has a promising product offering with important commercial deployment potential for autonomous systems,” said Dan Tram, investment director of Volvo Group Venture Capital, who is based in Silicon Valley.
“We are excited to invest in a company that enables easier development of safety-certified systems,” stated Anna Westerberg, acting CEO of Volvo Group Venture Capital and senior vice president at Volvo Group Connected Solutions.
Other investors include InMotion Ventures Ltd., which is the venture-capital unit of Jaguar Land Rover, as well as HELLA Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, Toyota AI Ventures, and Airbus Ventures. Apex.AI previously raised $15.5 million in its Series A round in November 2018.
“It’s a testament to our work to have InMotion Ventures invest in our company,” stated Jan Becker, co-founder and CEO of Apex.AI. “We founded Apex.AI on the premise of developing technology that can launch into products within three years to make mobility safer and more reliable. InMotion’s strategic investment will accelerate the development of Apex.OS, enabling Apex.AI’s customers to meet aggressive timelines in taking R&D projects into certified products.”
Becker and Pangercic previously worked at automotive technology supplier Bosch Corp.
“InMotion Ventures is excited to back Apex.AI,” said Sebastian Peck, managing director at London-based InMotion Ventures. “Co-founders Jan and Dejan have assembled a highly experienced team to deliver safe and certified software for autonomous mobility, which closely aligns with Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Destination Zero’ vision for the future of the industry. We have the ambition to make our societies safer and our environment cleaner.”