Israeli AI Firm Teams Up With Toyota, BMW to Take on Mobileye

Cartica, founded in 2007, has operations in defense and vehicle technology

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A Yandex self-driving car during a test in Israel.
A Yandex self-driving car during a test in Israel.Credit: Yandex

Israeli high-tech firm Cartica has partnered with Toyota and BMW to form an artificial intelligence (AI) venture for autonomous driving that will compete with Mobileye, the company said on Wednesday.

Cartica, founded in 2007, is an AI company with operations in defense and vehicle technology. Over the past few years it has founded several subsidiaries to implement its technology in different contexts, such as identifying violence in preschools, developing security cameras and airport applications. Two months ago, it announced it was founding a new company focused on vehicle technology, called Cartica AI.

It has raised $69 million to date, and currently has more than 100 employees at the parent company and its spinoffs.

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Partners in Cartica AI include venture capital units at Toyota and BMW, auto supplier Continental AG, as well as Israeli investment platform OurCrowd.

Given the shift toward self-driving cars, many in the industry are looking to incorporate AI into their systems to better deal with road hazards and increase safety.

The companies did not disclose how much they invested in Cartica AI, but they will help with development and distribution.

Cartica AI said that unlike more conventional AI systems, it does not use human-labeled data for deep learning, which is time consuming, expensive and at times unreliable.

Instead, it said its AI engine sifts through millions of unlabeled videos, finding common elements to make decisions on how best to react on the road, without human intervention. For instance, it differentiates between pedestrians, traffic lights and other cars.

Igal Raichelgauz, one of Cartica’s three founders, called this technology a more accurate, “more efficient alternative” to that developed by fellow Israeli company Mobileye.

“In the vehicle industry, even one mistake in 20 million is a disaster,” he said.

Mobileye was acquired by Intel.

With reporting by Reuters.