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RoadBotics Announces $7.5 Million In Series A Round Led By Radical Ventures

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Below is our recent interview with Mark DeSantis, CEO at RoadBotics:

Q: For those who haven’t heard of it, what is the best way to describe RoadBotics?

A: RoadBotics assesses road surfaces and roadway assets for governments in 22 US states and 8 countries. Road inspection is an integral part of road maintenance built on the simple truth that if I don’t the exact condition of every meter of road then I cannot maintain it. Inspection determines everything what roads need fixed when to how much a city budgets over the next 5 years. The dominant inspection method used today – manual visual inspection – has not changed much since the Romans built (and regularly inspected) the Via Apia 2,000 years ago. It is time-consuming, labor-intensive, expensive and, most importantly, a highly subjective process. RoadBotics addressed all of these issues with a simple smartphone (mounted on the dash of a standard passenger vehicle) to collect the data and uses AI to analyze and rate the roads and roadway assets. The result is an online and dynamic that is used by everyone within our customer’s organization who has any role in maintaining or even using the roads.

Q: How exactly do you assess roads? Can you walk us through your machine learning process?

A: RoadBotics’ AI scans each image pixel-by-pixel to identify a widely variety of well-known road surface features, distresses and issues, including everything alligator cracks, block cracks, raveling, rutting among them. RoadBotics automatically rates each section of roadway on a scale of 1-5 (1=High Quality, 5=Very Poor Quality) based on the type¬¬¬, frequency, and density of surface distresses. By automating the rating process, RoadBotics provides objective assessments with fast turnaround for customers to plan and prioritize maintenance needs.

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Q: You’ve recently raised $7.5M in Series A round; could you tell us something more?

A: RoadBotics was spun-out of Carnegie Mellon University in the Fall of 2016, based on research Dr. Christoph Mertz, PhD, Chief Scientist and Co-founder at RoadBotics. His ground-breaking work on deep learning and machine vision the Carnegie Mellon University Navigation Laboratory and Traffic 21 served as the foundation for RoadBotics’ products. Since then, we’ve come a long way and now provide road assessments to 150+ communities — our mission is to make road assessments more accessible to everyone, and this funding will help us do just that.

This funding round was led by Radical Ventures, who recently started a fund focused on artificial intelligence. We’re proud to work with a venture capital firm who sees the value and potential in using AI to provide decision-makers with the data they need to make roads safer for everyone.

Q: What makes you a global leader in road assessments?

A: RoadBotics currently works in 15 countries. Road maintenance is a global issue that governments everywhere face. We’re proud to provide a solution for road managers that need quality road condition data in order to fix their roads that is affordable, reliable, and faster than conventional methods.

Q: What’s included in your road assessment?

A: When a municipality purchases one of our road assessments, and once we receive a map of their road network, they can be assured that we’ll handle everything from start to finish. Upon receiving a map of the municipality’s roads, our operations team maps the necessary routes in order to drive the entire area in the most time-efficient way possible. We then send a Certified Operations Technician to drive the entire road network, while our smartphones simultaneously collect images of the roads. The collected images are then analyzed by our AI algorithms. Once the analysis is complete, the customer receives a comprehensive pavement assessment viewable on our RoadWay platform and also downloadable as a GIS-compatible shapefile or a CSV file.

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Q: What can we expect from RoadBotics in the future?

A: Stay tuned to learn more about RoadBotics’ initiatives to make road assessments easier across the globe. We’re currently working on additional product developments in order to help governments get more data about their local infrastructure.

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