Startup Aims AI System for Safety, with Potential for Self-Driving

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events—repeated hazardous driving, such as running three red lights in a row, and when a driver is showing signs of fatigue.

Although Netradyne was founded just 16 months ago, Pandya said the startup already has about 45 employees, including a core team of principals and engineers from Qualcomm and its former Omnitracs subsidiary.

Netradyne CEO Avneesh Agrawal, who held Qualcomm’s top job in India as senior vice president of technology and business in Bangalore, co-founded the company in September, 2015, with David Julian, a principal engineer deeply involved in Qualcomm’s Zeroth neuromorphic processor, a semiconductor designed to mimic the way a brain thinks. Pandya, a product manager overseeing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Gobi chipsets, joined a month later.

The startup raised $16 million last summer in a Series A round funded by the venture arm of Reliance Industries, a diversified conglomerate based in Mumbai, India.

While the company has initially focused its technology development on telematics for fleet management, Netradyne said at the time that Reliance Industries’ strategic investment would be used “to drive the commercialization of Netradyne’s intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) product roadmap… Crowdsourcing of visual IoT data continuously improves NetraDyne’s [sic] Deep Learning models, delivering insights and new levels of business intelligence to decision makers.”

In other words, long-haul trucking and fleet management is only the first stop on Netradyne’s technology roadmap. “We think there’s a lot of runway, and a lot of opportunities out there,” Pandya said.

In this respect, Netradyne’s strategy is borrowing a page from the Qualcomm playbook. Early revenue generated from its Omnitracs business enabled Qualcomm to advance its proprietary digital communications technology, and stage a demonstration for 50 wireless industry leaders in 1989. By 1992, Qualcomm was making CDMA-based wireless chips, mobile phones, and base stations.

Netradyne already has established partnerships with transportation companies to refine its technology, said Adam Kahn, vice president of fleet business. The startup has been generating data for a variety of fleets, from town car and package delivery services to long-haul trucking companies.

By developing AI to process enormous amounts of digital video technology in real time, Pandya explained that Netradyne will have an early lead in the race for autonomous vehicle technology with a system for generating and analyzing data in all driving conditions.

“When you train a neural net to detect certain things in video images, the images themselves are not interesting,” Pandya said. “But the training that goes into it [i.e. the machine learning] is interesting. That’s what we’re getting. We’re training our system to drive billions of miles.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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