Listen to this article
Seoul Robotics, a company taking an Autonomy Through Infrastructure (ATI) approach to autonomous driving, brought in $25 million in Series B funding. KB Investment, a Korean venture capital and private equity firm, led the funding round.
Noh and Partners, Future Play, Korean Development Bank, Artesian and Access Ventures also contributed to the funding round.
Seoul Robotics’ Level 5 Control Tower, or LV5 CTRL TWR for short, involves a mesh network of sensors or computers that are installed on infrastructure. Cars use vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication to connect to the mesh network and operate as autonomous vehicles, meaning the system can turn non-autonomous cars into autonomous ones.
LV5 CTRL TWR takes advantage of technology that’s already built into modern vehicles, and putting sensing systems on the surrounding infrastructure could give cars a more unobstructed view of the environment. It would give cars the ability to know if there’s a car coming around the corner, for example.
“Infrastructure has been assisting drivers since the first traffic light was introduced over a hundred years ago, but unlike the current system, which is designed to assist humans, Seoul Robotics is pioneering a new way to leverage infrastructure that enables autonomous robots and cars to reach their full potential,” HanBin Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Seoul Robotics, said. “This groundbreaking approach is made possible through our leading 3D computer vision technology that has been recognized as the most advanced solution in the industry. With this funding, we will continue developing industry-transforming solutions that will drive the future of mobility and deliver beyond what we can even conceptualize today.”
The system collects 3D data from the environment with cameras and LiDAR, then it uses computer vision and deep learning-based AI to analyze that data and determine the safest paths for vehicles. Next, the system communicates with the car through V2X, and uses a car’s existing features, like adaptive cruise controls or brake assist functions, to get it where it needs to go. The system can achieve a positioning accuracy for its cars of plus or minus 4 cm.
While the company sees more applications for its technology in the future, Seoul Robotics is currently focused on automated first- and last-mile logistics, such as parking. LV5 CTRL TWR is in early commercial deployment at a BMW manufacturing facility in Munich.
There, LV5 CTRL TWR automates the movement of cars between locations once they’re manufactured, from electrical repair stations to parking lots for test driving and more. From the moment a car is manufactured, to the moment it’s delivered to a customer, it moves through an average of seven parking lots.
The company plans to use the funding to further develop its solution for automotive logistics, international expansion and new industry partnerships. Seoul Robotics also plans on using the funding to extend its technology to additional logistic applications like rental car fleets and trucking yards.
Seoul Robotics won a 2022 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award for its LV5 CTRL TWR from our sister publication Robotics Business Review.