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iAngels portfolio companies Arbe Robotics and Taranis mentioned amongst Siliconrepublic.com 23 amazing startups in Tel Aviv

This article was originally published on siliconrepublic.com 

Tel Aviv is alive with tech start-ups and it is a city with an unwavering eye on the future.

The second most populous city in Israel, and effectively the country’s business capital, Tel Aviv is a firm fixture on the world’s technology map.

It is clearly a city where people like to work hard but play hard, too, with a world-renowned nightlife. Nestled alongside the Mediterranean and home to thousands of start-ups, the city and its surrounding areas are home to hundreds of venture capital firms but also global operations of tech giants such as Google, SAP, Microsoft and Facebook, to name a few.

Boasting a technology cluster known as Silicon Wadi, Israel is a start-up nation, and much of the tech industry can be found in the area around Tel Aviv and in nearby cities such as Ra’anana, Petah Tikva, Herzliya, Netanya, Rehovot and Rishon LeZion.

The Israeli tech industry began to form in the 1960s with forerunners including Tadiran and Elron Electronic Industries. The industry’s evolution was boosted by the 1967 French arms embargo, which was a catalyst for the creation of a domestic military industry defined by cutting edge R&D.

Notable tech giants to emerge from Israel include Amdocs and Check Point Software Technologies.

From IT security to the cameras in our smartphones, Israeli entrepreneurs mostly based in or near Tel Aviv have played a key role.

As one of the most technologically influential hubs in the world alongside Silicon Valley, Berlin, Helsinki, Kista and London, Tel Aviv is notable for the sheer number of start-ups that go on to list on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

Like most start-up cities, Tel Aviv has a bustling events scene, with notable events including Blockchain Israel, GarageGeeks, UX Salon, Startup Grind and Yazamiyot for women entrepreneurs.

Useful groups to follow on Facebook include Start-Up Stadium, Secret Tel Aviv and Innovation Israel.

Annual tech events include DLD in September, Journey, Microsoft Tech Summit and Innovex.

Established incubators include The Time, Samurai Incubate and Techcode, while active accelerators include 500 Startups, TheHive, Kamatech and The Junction.

And so, here are 23 Tel Aviv start-ups that we think are worth watching in 2018.

Airobotics

Airobotics has developed a pilotless drone platform that collects aerial data and valuable insights for industrial facilities. Founded in 2014 by Meir Kliner and Ran Krauss, Airobotics has raised $71m in funding so far, the most recent being a $32.5m Series C round led by BlueRun Ventures, also including such investors as OurCrowd and Microsoft Ventures.

Click here to read more!

Founder Interview: Kobi Marenko, Arbe Robotics

2017 has seen some big wins for the Israeli autonomous vehicle sector, with Mobileye’s sale for $15.3B at the beginning of the year and just last week, Argus, the Tel Aviv based autonomous cyber security startup was sold for a reported $430M. Founded in just 2013, its sale and that of Mobileye, demonstrates how rapidly the automotive industry is evolving and how Israel is primed to drive its transformation.      
 
We’ve been charting the sector’s growth and have been investing in it for several years now, with Arbe Robotics being one of our more recent investments. So to get a sense of how those on the inside are feeling with all this good news, we spoke to Arbe Robotics founder, Kobi Morenko, about what he believes this latest sale means for autonomous vehicles and Israel.

With another big win for the autonomous vehicle sector last week, is confidence running high?

“The Argus deal highlights that companies… with the right technology have a huge opportunity to capitalize on an industry that’s going through a period of huge transformation. And Israel is best placed to capitalize.

Why so?

“Because Israel is leading the way when it comes to R&D for autonomous driving. The innovation in the Israeli market is a close second to that of Silicon Valley and certainly far superior than any other place in the world.

All the large automotive manufactures & tier 1s (their integrators) have R&D centers in Israel or have at least a scouting team on the ground. I think that in the next few years we’ll be seeing overseas entrepreneurs basing themselves in Israel in order to tap into the local knowledge base. And if not base themselves here, they’ll look for an Israeli co-founder simply because this is where the talent pool is so strong.”

It all sounds very positive but there must been some areas of caution or challenges?

“For us the bad news is that the big players in the industry are showing that they’re not going anywhere. I can’t foresee much change happening in the next ten years  –  the majority of cars on the road will still be produced by the existing manufactures who will continue to have the stronghold thanks to relationships with their existing tier 1s.

It therefore means that the majority of automotive startups will be purchased and we won’t see the likes of Facebook, Uber or Amazon of autonomous driving. Instead, we’ll see 99% of successful startups being bought with valuations around the price of this deal ±.

Another point to consider is China, the world’s largest vehicle market, has recently announced its plan to end the production and sale of fossil fuel cars. This could have a huge impact on the balance of power between Chinese and Western manufacturers. We could see that in 10 years from now, the Chinese market, controlled by local companies, could quite easily conquer market share in the West, where the main asset of manufacturers is fossil fuel engines.”

How has 2017 been for Arbe Robotics?

“Regarding Arbe Robotics, we’re happy to announce that we finished a $9M A round, our prototype is working strongly and showed a 1 degree azimuth resolution, which is the key for autonomous driving, before any other player in the world. And we already have several fee paying customers that will begin driving with our product installed during this quarter and into early next year. So things are certainly looking healthy for us too.”

Find out more about Arbe Robotics

 

 

Ushering in the Era of Autonomous Vehicles: A Primer on Sensor Technology

In 1886, Karl Benz revealed the first automobile in history. In 1908, Henry Ford sold the first Model T. In 2017, the $9 trillion global automotive industry sells nearly 100 million vehicles a year. Despite the incredible mechanical and manufacturing breakthroughs we’ve witnessed in the past century, one thing has remained constant: the driver. But this is about to change.

In light of the countless casualties caused by distracted and careless drivers, technology companies like Tesla, Google, Uber, and Apple have developed and pioneered new technologies causing the entire automotive industry to reconsider what is possible. Self-driving, or autonomous vehicles, purport to not only solve the glaring issue of human error and car accidents but also to reimagine the driving experience as relaxing and social, rather than vigilant and dangerous.

The obvious question is how will we get there? How will the industry evolve from current, manually driven vehicles to a fully autonomous system? Below, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) outlines five different levels autonomic achievement necessary to turn this promise into a reality.

levelss

Source: 2024ad.com

In the last year, we’ve witnessed a broad transition from level 2 to level 3 autonomy with Tesla launching autopilot capabilities, GM acquiring Cruise Automation for $1b, Waymo spinning out company of Google’s self-driving car project, and Uber’s purchase of Otto for $680m.

The promise of a fully autonomous vehicle, however, requires the vehicle to perform better than a human driver. Human drivers undergo a three-part process that allows them to navigate the roads.

1) Perception of the environment

2) Decision making based on the perceived surrounding

3) Timely execution of each decision

To illustrate, imagine a driver sees an obstacle on the road, decides to avoid obstacle by swerving right, and physically turns the steering wheel right and re-centers it after avoiding the obstacle. A fully-autonomous vehicle must go through this process as well. Perception is done largely by sensors such as cameras, radar, and lidar, decision making is done by algorithms and processing, and the manipulation of the vehicle based on the decisions is conducted by actuators. The following paragraphs will outline the perception function, and the technologies being developed in the space.

Perception systems can further be broken down into two categories:

  • Proprioceptive Sensors – responsible for sensing the vehicle’s internal state like wheel encoders, inertial measurement unit, driver attentiveness
  • Exteroceptive Sensors – responsible for sensing the vehicle’s surrounding

The exteroceptive sensors are of particular importance for autonomous capabilities, as they are tasked with dealing with the external environment. It is their job to spot all important things on or near the road like other vehicles, pedestrians, debris and, in some cases, road features like signs and lane markings. In addition to detecting these obstacles, these systems need to identify the obstacles, measure their speed and direction, and predict where they are going. Below is an image outlining the key components of the exteroceptive sensor family:

Sensors

 

The below table outlines the three most significant sensors: cameras, radar and lidar and discusses pros and cons, as well as its main function.

updated.tech.comparison

While there has yet to be industry consensus on which sensor will capture the lion’s share of the perception function in autonomous vehicles, many industry experts today are of the opinion that all of the above sensors will play a role in the autonomous vehicle. We see an investment opportunity in both the development of new, more capable sensors, as well as software created that improves the perception of each sensor.

In January 2017, we were excited to announce our first investment in the autonomous enablement category – Arbe Robotics. The Company, led by a serial entrepreneur and a team of radar and signal processing experts, develops proprietary radars designed for the autonomous vehicle that have 4D mapping and sensor fusion capabilities.