Berlin-based driver coaching platform Yaak has raised €7.3 million in a new funding round in order to further its ambitions of improving the safety of human drivers in order to build safer self-driving vehicles. The new investment will be used to further expand the company’s beta vehicle fleet as well as further develop the primary offer, its SafetyOS platform.
While Elon and a handful of other automotive makers have been introducing us to the promise of truly self-driving and self-aware cars, the status quo has yet to reach the level of flawless. The typical route of autonomous automobiles involves letting them drive themselves, save, along a pre-selected route. Not exactly the dynamic situation that the everyday asphalt presents.
Hailing from backgrounds including Carnegie Mellon, Apple, Unity, EPIC Games, Qamcom, and Daimler Autonomous, the Yaak team is taking a different approach to letting the car do the driving, by way of first improving the driving abilities of their carbon-based counterparts.
Yaak has developed a proprietary safety platform, SafetyOS, which trains and tests drivers on the road and provides realistic simulations via virtual reality. These VR simulations can then illustrate to the driver how a situation could have been avoided or handled better, all the while, creating a massive data set about safe and unsafe driving decisions.
Initially working in tandem with driving schools, driving instructors first demonstrate to the AI best driving practices in a number of real-world and VR-based simulations. From here, Yaak equipped cars can be used by driving students to complete self-guided virtual driving lessons.
Again, at the same time, collecting a slew of data points that can be used to train the brain of an autonomous vehicle.
“Autonomous systems first have to prove that they can correctly interpret the situation on the road in complex traffic situations. That is why we are working on a solution that can guarantee and certify the safe driving of autonomous vehicles as well as human drivers,” explained Yaak CTO and co-founder Martin Zielinski.
“We won’t see omnipresent AV’s before they are proven better than 95% percentile human drivers. It’s great to see a seasoned founding team with essential experience building cars, maps, autonomous systems, robots, simulation, and cloud services enable the next generation of mobility through codifying the knowledge of driving instructors – and I’m impressed by the way the product’s evolution is being driven by the marriage of customer insights and pioneering technology,” concluded Maki.vc’s Pauliina Martikainen.
The company also stresses, "We actually don't do anything with yaks."