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Ottopia closes $3M in seed funding; remote assistance for autonomous cars

Israel-based Ottopia, a technology company focused on remote assistance for self-driving cars, closed $3 million 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.

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, such as driving around road construction or a crowded street.

Unlike other solutions, Ottopia’s 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 VP of Product for a low-latency video transmission company. Before that, he led R&D projects for Israeli intelligence and graduated from the Talpiot program—an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) training program for recruits who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability in the sciences and leadership potential.

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.



"Remote assistance driver as subscription service" sounds like a viable thing, especially with the cooperation of the car's AI to deal with problems like network lag.  However, I have to wonder how this would affect the quality of the experience for human users.  Just waiting for the remote driver to understand what the problem is will impose some inherent delays in what's normally a continuous process.  This won't matter for cargo trucks, but it might bug people riding in autonomous taxis.

On the other hand, allowing people to work as remote truck drivers without having to leave the house might open jobs to the disabled.  It would shake the industry up even more.

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