Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) hardware startup Untether AI is teaming up with General Motors (GM).
The two-year partnership is being funded with $1 million from the Ontario government through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) R&D Partnership Fund. Bob Beachler, vice president of product at Untether, told BetaKit that the project is also supported by $2.09 million in “in-kind” contributions from both GM and Untether in the form of people and salaries.
“This demonstration project with General Motors illuminates the future of AI-powered perception systems that will make autonomous vehicles a reality.”
– Arun Iyengar
Through their collaboration, Untether and GM will work together to demonstrate an autonomous vehicle (AV) perception system based on Untether’s computation technology.
Founded in 2019, Untether provides high-performance AI chips that can be used in a variety of applications. This includes banking and financial services, as well as natural language processing, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and retail.
Perception systems use AI, in the form of neural networks, to understand the environment around the vehicle. These systems are highly complex since they must make sense of many external inputs, such as multiple channels of video cameras, radar, ultrasound, and lidar data.
Untether’s collaboration with GM will accelerate neural networks for AV perception systems, as GM will contribute guidance and insight on system requirements, as well as provide access to the neural network technology that is being used in GM’s current AV perception system.
The project’s goal is to help increase AV performance by providing faster and accurate vision response, reduce the power draw of various AV systems to increase battery life, and help to enable the downsizing of vehicle batteries.
GM is no stranger to Untether and its AI-powered offerings. Its global venture capital arm, GM Ventures, has been a strategic investor in Untether since 2018. GM said this pilot project with Untether demonstrates how establishing a connection with GM’s network of resources can lead to opportunities for tangible innovation.
Untether’s investor base comprises a number of notable firms across the VC, tech, and auto industry, including GM. In July last year, Untether revealed $125 million in a funding round that was co-led by New York-based Tracker Capital and existing investor Intel Capital. It also saw participation from new investor Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and Untether’s other previous investors, including Toronto’s Radical Ventures.
With the recent OVIN and industry investments, Untether has secured around $155 million in total funding to date.
Featured image from Untether AI’s website