Apex.AI, a company developing self-driving technologies, recently announced that they have secured $15.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Canaan. with participation from their seed investor Lightspeed.
Founded by ex-Bosch employees Jan Becker and Dejan Pangercic, Apex.AI takes a modular and diverse approach to autonomous vehicle software. The start-up has designed a modular software stack, that allows for easy integration into existing systems as well as easy integration of 3rd party software. They believe that highly focused specialists can develop a better overall system than one company developing a full-stack , which will likely not fit all applications.
Jan Becker says in a blog post, “Our software is not designed for peak performance — it’s designed to never fail. We’ve built redundancies into the system design to ensures that single failures don’t lead to system-wide failures.”
Autonomous vehicles use sensors to perceive objects and other traffic participants. The sensor data feeds into a computer and the computer runs software to understand the environment and to make driving decisions based on this understanding.
This software is very complex and contains computer vision, 3D perception, machine learning, localisation, decision making, trajectory planning, and control algorithms. These algorithms need a software framework to run in.
ROS, the Robot Operating System developed since 2008, is used by the majority of companies developing applications for autonomous vehicles. ROS is analogous to iOS’s or Android’s SDK in the mobile stack, providing a software framework for developers to build applications on top.
ROS has found widespread adoption because it is open source, has a strong community behind it and has seen a decade of application development, and provides a rich ecosystem in addition to the software framework, such as sensor drivers, algorithms, visualisation, simulation, build tools and much more.
Apex.AI’s first two products are Apex.OS and Apex.Autonomy. Apex.OS is a software framework or meta-operating system for autonomous mobility. It is an automotive version of ROS 2 and abstracts hardware-specific, real-time, and embedded software development so developers can focus on building production-grade autonomous driving applications on top of Apex.OS. Apex.OS will be certified to the highest automotive functional safety level (ASIL D) according to the automotive safety standard ISO 26262 in 2019.
Apex.Autonomy provides developers with building blocks for autonomy. Customers will have the option to pick and choose software building blocks from an ecosystem to compose a software stack that is right for their application, and not take a full-stack that has been developed by a single 3rd party. So, Apex.AI has started to build these blocks, e.g. automotive grade LiDAR data processing.