A UK AI startup has raised £2.1m (€2.3m) for a new approach to machine learning
Opteran, a spinout of the University of Sheffield, has developed a lightweight, low cost silicon-based approach to deep learning using optical flow techniques. These are similar to the way insects see.
The round was led by IQ Capital with Episode1, Join and Seraphim Capital also participating. This follows a pre-seed round from the Connecting Capabilities Fund of the British Business Bank and includes includes angel investors and a grant from the UK's Northern Triangle Initiative.
The technology is driven by research by Professor James Marshall and Dr. Alex Cope into insect brains as part of the Green Brain and Brains on Board projects.
This allows the software to mimic tasks such as seeing, sensing objects, obstacle avoidance, navigation and decision making and in a recent trial they were able to control a sub-250g drone, with complete onboard autonomy, using fewer than 10,000 pixels from a single low-resolution panoramic camera.
Weighing approximately 30g, and integrating Opteran technology drawing less than a watt of power, the Opteran Development Kit (ODK) (above) will enable the technology to be integrated into a wide variety of applications in the robotics market with real time autonomous decision-making. The
In the next 18 months Opteran will use this seed funding to build out functionality in the algorithms and chipsets, including launching Opteran Sense for obstacle avoidance and reactive navigation, Opteran Direct for SLAM, Opteran Decide for autonomous decision-making, and Opteran See - a 360 degree camera.
It will also look to expand its engineering and commercial team, and is currently launching a Development Kit to enable partners to embed its technology in their applications.
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