UPDATED 07:00 EST / FEBRUARY 01 2023

EMERGING TECH

Phantom AI, a startup building advanced driver assistance systems, raises $36.5M in funding

Phantom AI, a startup developing advanced driver assistance systems for automobiles, said today it has closed on a $36.5 million round of funding.

The Series C round was led by Intervest and saw participation from existing investors KT Investment and Renaissance Asset Management, plus new investors Shinhan GB and Samsung Ventures.. It brings PhantomAI’s total amount raised to $80.2 million.

The startup is developing a comprehensive ADAS platform that incorporates computer vision and sensor fusion and control capabilities. The idea with its platform is to provide assistance to human drivers and improve safety on the road, as opposed to powering fully autonomous vehicles. Phantom AI explains that while many of its rivals are focused on building so-called “robotaxis” that don’t require human drivers, it’s aiming to democratize the use of ADAS technology first of all, in order to save lives on the road, similarly to the implementation of seat belts in the 1990s.

Phantom AI was founded quite a few years ago, back in 2017 when Korean born engineers Hyunggi Cho and Chan Kyu Lee met while working at Tesla Inc. and realized they shared a mutual interest in unlocking the potential of ADAS technology. They have spent the intervening years developing the company’s technology, which aims to reduce road accidents and make driving more pleasurable.

The startup’s ADAS platform is based on three key technologies. These include PhantomVision, a scalable deep learning-powered computer vision platform that supports vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, free-space, traffic sign and traffic light detection. PhantomFusion, meanwhile, is a platform-independent sensor fusion and object tracking system that incorporates cameras, radar, lidar and ultrasonic sensors to enable vehicles to identify what’s around them. Last, PhantomDrive is a complete ADAS control system that powers adaptive cruise control, automatic lane keeping and automatic lane change features within vehicles.

Phantom AI believes that the automotive industry is unlikely to make the leap to full-fledged self-driving vehicles anytime soon. Instead, it believes that the adoption of ADAS systems is a far more likely progression. It says today’s round is evidence that the ADAS market is still growing in spite of the current economic slowdown, adding that government support will help it and other startups in the space to mitigate the impact of the downturn.

“This is quite a contrast to L4/L5 full automation areas like robotaxis, roboshuttles and autonomous trucking, where investments scaled back as the automotive community realized that L4/L5 is not easily commercialized for the next few years,” Cho, PhantomAI’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., said Phantom AI understands that progress in automotive AI doesn’t necessarily have to focus on the “grand solution” of fully autonomous vehicles. “It’ll be some time until we see completely AI-driven vehicles on the road, but between now and then there are many opportunities, and it’s good to see Phantom AI going after them with its AI-powered driver assistance systems,” he said.

The funding from today’s round will be used to accelerate production development of Phantom AI’s software with its manufacturing partners. “We’re focused on developing and expanding our product offerings, enhancing our marketing and sales efforts and accelerating our business growth with the goal to give customers the best possible multi-camera vision solutions in the market,” Cho added.

Intervest Partner Jay Jinhwan Jeon said customers are increasingly recognizing the key role ADAS systems can play in improving car safety. “We’re thrilled to partner with Phantom AI and help bring this important technology to the market,” he said.

Image: Phantom AI

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