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driveblocks, a technology startup and software specialist for fully autonomous driving of commercial vehicles, announced it closed a €2.2 million, around $2.36 million, seed round. The company plans to use the funding to further develop its core technology, the Mapless Autonomy Platform.
driveblocks was founded at the end of 2021 after its founders, Dr. Stephan Matz and Dr. Alexander Wishnewski, led a team from Technische Universität München in Germany to win the $1 million Indy Autonomous Challenge. The company’s Mapless Autonomy Platform for fully autonomous commercial vehicles uses perception to navigate the world, not maps, which can become outdated from one day to the next.
The Mapless Autonomy Platform is a modular system that includes software components for raw data processing, real-time detection of a vehicle’s environment, and sensor data fusion. It’s based on Transformer Neural Networks, the same network architecture that has led to recent breakthroughs in Large Language Models (LLMs).
“We combine the latest breakthroughs in machine learning with explainable algorithms for sensor data fusion. That’s why we can achieve the highest performance while meeting safety requirements,” Wishnewski said.
driveblocks has completed the construction of a development truck fully equipped with multiple cameras, LiDARs, and a drive-by-wire system in cooperation with pepper motion GmbH. It has successfully tested the latest version of its Mapless Autonomy Platform on a tour between Munich and Bolzano, including the challenging Brenner Pass. Now, the system’s software components are being tested on the road as well as in agriculture, container logistics, and earthmoving.
“With the Mapless Autonomy Platform, we are developing the next generation of autonomous driving technology – safe, reliable and ready for use by customers on and off the road,” Matz said.
Rethink Ventures and Bayern Kapitl led the round, which also included participation from angel investor Joachim Drees, former CEO of MAN SE and MAN Truck & Bus SE, and existing investor Friedrich & Wagner Holding.
In addition to expanding the capabilities of its Mapless Autonomy Platform, driveblocks also plans to expand field testing, invest in effective data management, and deepen collaboration with customers and fleet operators. On the operational side, driveblocks will prepare for a series of certifications of its perception and sensor fusion components.
driveblocks targets Tier-1 suppliers and OEMs to integrate its software components into their vehicles and machinery to enable safe, autonomous driving on both private and public roads. Current driveblocks customers and development partners include a major Tier 1 in Germany and TIER IV, a Japanese deep-tech specialist in autonomous driving. The company also works closely with Apex.AI and Schaeffler ByWire.