Visionary Machines, an Australian IT startup backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has closed a $7.5 million seed funding round led by local venture capital fund Folklore Ventures.
The round counted the participation from existing investors Significant Capital Ventures, Thorney Investment Group, and IQT International Australia which is the Sidney-based division of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-founded Venture Capitalist.
The startup is developing revolutionary 3D sensing solutions using camera arrays that can achieve vision better than that of humans, allowing machines to “see”.
This technology has several potential applications like automotive and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), mining and construction, emergency services, farming, defense, and much more.
When compared to similar camera-based systems, Visionary Machine’s setup offers increased accuracy, wider range, and increased robusticity at lower costs.
Amir Mashkoori, the recently appointed CEO, referred to the drawbacks of current systems the startup aims to replace with these comments,
“If you’re going to point two cameras at something to measure that it’s 100 meters out, and one of those cameras shakes, it’s not going to measure 100 meters anymore. So there’s constant calibration required. Our cameras will survey a scene, self-calibrate, and within a few seconds we’re ready to go.”
Founded in 2019 by Dr. Rhys Newman and Dr. Samson Lee, Visionary Machines has raised $8.9 million in total funding so far, recently appointing Amir Mashkoori as its new CEO.
While the startup is based in Sidney, it plans to use San Jose, California, as its “go-to-market and globalization center”, which is why the new CEO will continue to live and work in the US.
Joining the startup will also be Folklore Ventures partner Hannah Field, who will become a board member as part of the round.
She referred to her firm’s interest in the startup by stating,
“From day one, we’ve been blown away by the talent and expertise of the founders and their development of a ground-breaking technology that will advance the reliability and fidelity of 3D ranging,”
With global concerns about surveillance growing by the day, Mashkoori said that the IT startup’s technology would be focused on logistic opportunities instead of ethically questionable applications like facial recognition systems.