Guardian Optical Technologies announced the launch of patent-pending sensor technology for automobile manufacturers, supported by $5.1 million in Series A funding from Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund. The company says it will use the funding to accelerate and expand the technological development of its new standalone automatic system. The system combines video image recognition (2D), depth-mapping (3D), and micro- to macro-motion detection, which the company says enables car makers to produce safer, more convenient “passenger-aware” cars.

Guardian Optical Technologies' optical technologies are designed to monitor a car’s entire interior cabin with one sensor. Working in conjunction with seatbelts, airbags, and other built-in safety systems, it detects movements, including every heartbeat in the vehicle, and identifies the location and physical dimensions of every occupant, according to the company. Developed with technology to detect micro vibrations using low-cost, automotive-grade components, the sensor can reportedly distinguish between people and objects. It can also detect the presence of objects without a direct line of sight, thanks to its micro-meter sensitivity.

Guardian Optical Technologies says its system is cost-effective by eliminating the need to install multiple sensors throughout the car, and because the system is "built with low-cost, automotive-grade sensors, using off-the shelf components, which reduces the number of components in the vehicle."

The system is intended to support future advances in the automotive industry, particularly in autonomous vehicles. In addition to its optical set-up, the system also reportedly employs machine learning, with data analysis of real-time, comprehensive “big data” collected on vehicle occupancy, along with image analysis of the sensor’s video feed.

“In the past two years, car manufacturers have marked Israel as a prime source of advanced technologies,” said co-founder and CEO Gil Dotan. “For our part, Guardian Optical Technologies enables manufacturers to understand the reality inside the vehicle, in depth. Our vision is to create the ultimate in-vehicle sensing platform, enabling manufacturers to be more aware of passengers so that over time the travel experience will be improved, and the road will become a safer place for us all.”

Michael Granoff, managing partner of Maniv Mobility, noted that the market for passenger-aware vehicles is growing rapidly and presents a substantial business opportunity within the current automotive industry. “Guardian Optical Technologies has developed a sophisticated response to the complexities of the automotive world today,” Granoff said. “And beyond that, it has developed a solution that is forward-looking and adaptable enough to meet future needs within the industry—especially the needs of autonomous cars.”

This marks the first time the Mirai Creation Fund, operated by SPARX and funded by 20 companies, including Toyota Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., has invested in an Israeli company. “Our mission is to support innovative companies that are well-positioned to grow into the future and lead the way for decades to come,” Shuhei Abe, Group CEO of SPARX, the operator of Mirai Creation Fund, said. “We expect that its technology will continue to evolve and thrive, and we look forward to being a part of its growth.”

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