Friday, September 17, 2021

KeepTruckin Raises $ 190 Million to Invest in Artificial Intelligence Products, Doubling R&D Team to 700 – TechCrunch

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KeepTruckin, a hardware and software developer that helps truck fleets manage vehicle, cargo and driver safety, just raised $ 190 million in a Series E funding round, which places the valuation of the company at $ 2 billion, according to CEO Shoaib Makani.

G2 Venture Partners, which just raised a $ 500 million fund to help modernize existing industries, participated in the round, along with existing backers such as Greenoaks Capital, Index Ventures, IVP, and Scale Venture Partners, which is managed by BlackRock.

KeepTruckin intends to invest its new capital in its AI-powered products like its GPS tracking, ELD compliance, and shipping and workflow, but is specifically interested in improving its smart dash camera, which instantly detects behavior from unsafe driving as a cell phone distraction and close monitoring and alerts drivers in real time, according to Makani.

The company says that Usher Transport, one of its customers, says it has seen a 32% annual reduction in accidents after implementing Smart Dashcam, DRIVE risk score and Safety Hub, products the company offers to increase safety.

“The special sauce of KeepTruckin is that we can build complex models (which other edge cameras can’t yet run) and make it work on the edge with low power, low memory and low bandwidth limitations,” Makani told TechCrunch. “We have developed internal IPs to solve this problem in different environmental conditions, such as low light, extreme weather, occluded subjects and distortions.”

This kind of precision requires billions of actual data points that are trained and tested on KeepTruckin’s internal machine learning platform, a resource-intensive process. The platform includes smart annotation capabilities to automatically label different data points so that the neural network can play with millions of potential situations, achieving similar performance to the edge device that is in the field with real-world environmental conditions, based on Makani.

A 2020 study by McKinsey predicted that the transportation industry is not likely to experience the kind of year-on-year growth it did last year, which was 30% higher than in 2019, but noted that some industries would increase at higher rates than others. For example, e-commerce-related commodities and agricultural and food products will be the first to grow again, while electronics and automotive could grow at a slower pace due to declining demand for non-essential products. by consumers.

Since the pandemic, the company said it experienced 70% annualized growth, largely due to expansion into new markets such as construction, oil and gas, food and beverage, field services, moving and warehousing, and agriculture. KeepTruckin expects this demand to increase and intends to use the fresh funds to rapidly scale and recruit more talent that will help advance its artificial intelligence systems, doubling its R&D team to 700 people around the world with a focus on engineering, machine vision, data science and other areas of artificial intelligence, says Makani.

“We believe that packaging these products into user-friendly user interfaces for non-technical people is critical, which is why front-end and full-stack engineers with experience building incredibly intuitive web and mobile applications too they are high priority, “Makani said.

Much of KeepTruckin’s technology will eventually power autonomous vehicles to make roads safer, Makani says, something that is also becoming increasingly relevant as the The demand for trucks continues to outpace the supply of drivers.

Level 4 and eventually Level 5 autonomy will come to the trucking industry, but we are still many years away from wide implementation, ”he said. “Our AI-powered dash cam makes drivers safer and helps prevent accidents today. While the promise of autonomy is real, we are working hard to help companies realize the value of this technology now. “

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