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Seattle startup Overland AI, founded in 2022, has secured a $10 million seed round to support its development of autonomous driving technology for off-road vehicles. The company, a spinout from the University of Washington, aims to use robot-controlled vehicles to eliminate risks to humans in high-risk situations, particularly in military operations. Overland recently won a contract with the U.S. Army and Defense Innovation Unit to develop its OverDrive technology platform for the U.S. Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle. The company’s technology can be installed on any vehicle and is designed to navigate various conditions in real time using advanced machine learning capabilities. Overland has also been selected to continue development as part of DARPA’s RACER competition.

Byron Boots, Overland’s CEO, is a highly regarded robotics researcher with a background in machine learning and experience at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington. The company’s CTO, Jonathan Fink, brings expertise from a decade of research at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The team of 27 includes employees with experience at top self-driving companies such as Google, Waymo, and Aurora Innovation. Overland’s other co-founders, Stephanie Bonk and Greg Okopal, have extensive experience in companies like Apple, PROS, and in defense research programs. The $10 million seed round was led by Point72 Ventures and included investments from Shasta Ventures, Ascend, Pioneer Square Labs, Voyager Capital, and Cubit Capital. Overland was also a finalist for Startup of the Year at the recent GeekWire Awards.

While some self-driving companies are facing challenges in traditional street environments, Overland AI has found success in developing technology for off-road vehicles and complex terrain. The company’s focus on using robot-controlled vehicles in high-risk situations has led to partnerships with the U.S. military, including the U.S. Army and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Overland’s technology does not rely on GPS and can analyze surrounding terrain in real time using onboard sensing and compute capabilities. The company’s mission is to protect human lives by using autonomous vehicles in situations where human drivers face significant risks.

Overland’s CEO, Byron Boots, is a key figure in the robotics research world, with affiliations at the University of Washington and a track record of success in DARPA competitions. The company’s technology, which can be installed on any vehicle, is designed to navigate various conditions at different speeds and avoid detection. Overland’s team of 27 employees comprises individuals with experience at major companies in the self-driving industry, bringing a wealth of expertise in machine learning, robotics, and defense research. With a strong network of investors backing their seed round, including Point72 Ventures and Shasta Ventures, Overland is well-positioned for growth and further advancements in autonomous driving technology for off-road vehicles.

Overland’s success in securing partnerships with the U.S. military, including the U.S. Army and DARPA, highlights the potential for autonomous driving technology in high-risk environments. By leveraging advanced machine learning capabilities and onboard sensing, Overland’s vehicles are able to navigate complex terrain without the need for a human driver. The company’s focus on developing technology for off-road vehicles sets it apart from other self-driving companies struggling in traditional street environments. With a team of experienced individuals and strong financial backing from top investors, Overland is poised to make a significant impact in the autonomous driving industry and contribute to the safety and efficiency of military operations in complex terrains.

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