Opteran raises $12m for neuromorphic AI

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


UK AI chip startup Opteran has raised $12m to further develop its optical flow AI technology into decision making.

The funding round was led by Join Capital, with additional funding from IQ Capital, Northern Gritstone, Seraphim, Episode 1 and Schauenburg Ventures.

In the next two years, Opteran will expand rapidly across international markets, expanding its neuromorphic optical flow technology, which it calls Opteran Natural Intelligence, from computer vision to decision making.

The company has already developed stabilized vision, collision avoidance and navigation with the ground-based system, Hopper, and its 700g Opteran aerial reference drone.

Opteran will use the funding round to boost product development and enable further international expansion. Opteran will open offices in the United States to support a growing number of customer pilots, and in 2023, it will add natural brain decision-making for machines. Opteran is also working to deliver hyperspectral vision, natural brain image recognition and dynamic learning based on inputs from the surrounding environment.

Sean Mitchell, founder and CEO of AI chip designer Movidius has joined as Chairman, while AI expert and co-founder Amazon Prime Air, Gur Kimchi, has been appointed an advisor,

“Opteran has built the AI technology required to transform autonomous machines beyond today’s limited use in restricted scenarios to enable more widespread adoption,” said Sebastian von Ribbentrop, Founding Partner of Join Capital. “We don’t often see companies with a vision and product of this magnitude, and it is clear to us that Opteran Natural Intelligence will be the differentiator for every sector implementing autonomy in machines. We’re thrilled to have this type of global disruptor in our portfolio.”

Opteran’s technology uses a similar approach to the way insects use embodied cognition to move around in complex, dynamic and often hostile environments. Autonomous machines must be able to interact with the world in a similar way to nature. Opteran can provide this type of real-time situational awareness for structured and unstructured environments by mimicking the function of animal brains. This delivers an energy efficient, robust and safe solution to deal with complicated visual and navigational challenges of autonomous machines, says the company.

“By mimicking Nature’s genius to enable machines to move like natural creatures we are redefining the global market for machine autonomy,” said David Rajan, CEO, Opteran. “We expect Opteran Natural Intelligence to become the standard solution for autonomy anywhere on the ground or in the air, on any machine, large or ultra small, because it combines such sophisticated natural brain capabilities in a light-weight, efficient package.”

It has also piloted its technology with international customers in the USA, South Africa and Europe, who are developing collision avoidance and navigation capabilities in cobot arms, drones, and mining robots.

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