Parallel Domain, a startup which builds virtual simulations and other autonomous platforms has recently finished raising funds for their Seeding round for one which enables engineers and developers to test and train their self-drive vehicles in associated AI. While the initial plans were to sell the platform to companies with plans of developing autonomous vehicles, they have now switched gears to holding the software and teaching AI based cars how to drive.
The seeding round comprised of multiple investors backing Parallel Domain and was led primarily by Costanoa Ventures. Other firms such as Ubiquity ventures took participation in the process as well. Toyota AI Ventures and Softbank teamed up later to provide additional funds to Parallel Domain’s seeding round, which managed to raise as much as $2.56 million in total funds.
Toyota had more reasons behind this investment than simply revenue. As per the blog post published by Jim Adler, Toyota Venture’s Founding Managing Director, the company had recently been looking into the idea of autonomous vehicles and the vision of them replacing the need for drivers in the future. Not only were Parallel Domain’s ambitions in line with their backers, but Toyota AI ventures also found their work quite impressive.
“We’re not only impressed with their technology, but also with the Parallel Domain team. They have a clear vision for solving the problems associated with getting AVs on the road safely, and the expertise to make it happen,” wrote Jim Adler. “Founder and CEO Kevin McNamara is a computer graphics expert who worked on content generation at Pixar Animation Studios and Microsoft Game Studios before leading a team focused on autonomous systems and simulation within Apple’s Special Projects Group.”
The startup was founded in 2017, and it now provides the ability for autonomous cars to test themselves and learn how to drive by mapping real-world conditions and terrain into a virtual environment using generative models and procedural growth algorithms. This enables millions of developers of Autonomous Vehicles safely and economically train their cars how to drive. It furthermore helps Toyota reach the trillion mile reliability which the company expects from their autonomous vehicles.
“With test vehicles driving millions of miles per year, improving the safety of self-driving cars is an immediate necessity,” Parallel Domain Founder Kevin McNamara wrote on LinkedIn. “Simulation has the opportunity to minimize the danger of real-world training and testing while allowing companies to focus their dollars and engineering hours on what matters most: building a car that can drive itself. Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to that goal.”
With a broad range of options which allows all features of the virtual world to be tweaked, including terrain, mountains, obstacles, elevation, accidents, lanes, and even traffic rules, their virtual world is as close as can be to the real one. The advantage is that tests and training in the virtual world stand to be both safer and more economical than the real world for obvious reasons. This ingenious innovation can pave the pathway for the future and the increasing use of autonomous vehicles in everyday life.