Israel's Ottopia secures $3 million in funding for autonomous vehicle technology

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 26 Dec 2018

Ottopia’s co-founders, Leon Altarac (CTO) and Amit Rosenzweig (CEO) with the company’s R&D car

Ottopia, an Israel-based technology company focused on remote assistance for self-driving cars has closed $3 million (Rs 20 crore) in seed funding. The round was led by MizMaa Ventures with participation from Glory Ventures, Plug and Play and NextGear.

Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology has come a long way in the last decade. Within certain boundaries, AVs can drive themselves 99 percent of the time; however, there is a growing consensus that the last one percent is still many years away. That is where teleoperation comes in. An AV can call a human back-up to help it resolve unpredictable or unsafe situations.

Today, early-stage teleoperation platforms provide support by handing over complete control to a remote human driver. That increases the likelihood of human error in situations that are already complex, like driving around road construction or a crowded street.

Unlike other solutions, Ottopia claims that its software platform allows the human operator and the car’s AI to work together during a remote intervention. The human assists the AV with decision-making in a complex scenario. The AV then executes that decision and navigates with a full suite of sensors and safety measures engaged.

Amit Rosenzweig (CEO) and Leon Altarac (CTO) founded Ottopia in 2018. Prior to that, Leon founded the Robotics and AV branch of the Israeli Army, where he spent the last decade designing various AVs and teleoperation solutions for real-life missions. Amit was head of product for Microsoft’s leading cybersecurity offering, as well as vice president of Product for a low-latency video transmission company. Before that, he led R&D projects for Israeli intelligence and graduated from the prestigious Talpiot program.

“Autonomous vehicles are inevitable, but safe deployment is still a core roadblock. Major players agree that there is a real, unmet need in this domain,” said Aaron Applbaum from MizMaa Ventures. “We are thrilled to partner with Ottopia’s talented and battle-tested team to solve the problem of safe teleoperation. Their approach and drive give us full confidence that they’ll succeed.”

Ottopia plans to use the funds to expand its R&D team and collaborate with AV companies to prove the versatility and enhanced safety of its platform.

“Our platform addresses all the core challenges in teleoperation, like network connectivity, safety and cybersecurity,” said Amit Rosenzweig, “And the feedback so far from key players is very encouraging.”