Automated vehicle inspection systems startup UVeye Inc. said today it has closed on a $100 million funding round led by Hanaco VC.
The Series D round, which also saw participation from existing investors GM Ventures, CarMax, W.R. Berkley Corporation, F.I.T. Ventures L.P. and various Israeli institutional investors, brings the company’s total amount raised to date to almost $200 million.
UVeye is the creator of a drive-through system that employs artificial intelligence, machine learning and sensor-fusion technologies to detect external and mechanical flaws underneath or on the sides of any vehicle in a matter of seconds. It can also detect other anomalies, such as modifications and foreign objects that could create a problem for the vehicle.
The startup explains that such a system is necessary because electronic and autonomous vehicles are becoming more complex. For companies that operate fleets of such vehicles, the ability to perform low-cost and high-frequency predictive maintenance will become invaluable, it says.
Amir Hever, UVeye’s co-founder and chief executive, said its goal is to standardize how the automobile industry detects damage and mechanical issues on vehicles and establish new quality standards. “Our patent-protected technology provides automakers, dealers and fleet operators with unmatched solutions for quickly and accurately identifying vehicle problems,” he explained.
UVeye has built three unique, high-speed vehicle inspection systems that can be installed at fleet headquarters, new- and used-car dealerships, auction houses and even assembly lines. Helios is an underbody scanner that’s able to detect problems such as frame damage, missing parts, fluid leaks and brake and exhaust system issues.
Artemis is for checking the quality of the vehicle’s tires, and can identify the brand, technical specifications, air pressure, tread depth, sidewall damage and other issues, such as alignment problems, within seconds. As for Atlas, it’s a 360-degree vehicle exterior detection system that checks the sheet metal body and components such as door locks, bumpers, grilles and windows.
Analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said UVeye has hit upon an innovative new use case for AI. “We know from healthcare and other industries that AI-powered machines are better than humans at image recognition and spotting anomalies that could signify problems,” he explained. “AI performs more consistently and does not need to take a break. It’ll be interesting to see what the cost of these proactive inspections and the maintenance required is, because we all rely on vehicles.”
UVeye is based in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Tel Aviv, Israel, and has numerous facilities spread across North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The funds from today’s round will help it to begin production of its UVeye inspection systems in North America and fuel its market expansion efforts.
Already, the company claims,, it has launched various major programs in the U.S. with more than 5,000 car dealerships, user-car auctions providers and fleets. They include commercial agreements with car manufacturers such as General Motors Co., Volvo Car Corp. and CarMax Inc. Hever said those partners all plan to integrate UVeye’s inspection systems within their wider networks.
“[They] will lead to the installation of thousands of new UVeye inspection systems within the next two-to-three years and generate an exponential jump in sales,” he said.
Hanaco VC Partner Lior Prosor said he’s a big believer in the need for automated vehicle inspection technology, and claimed to have spent 24 months looking for the right player to back in this emerging market. “Automated inspection of vehicles enabled by advanced computer vision and AI is in its first innings, but will completely transform the auto industry,” he predicted.
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