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Portfolio Company Opteran Secures $12 Million to Create a New Standard for Autonomous Machines

Written by: leah_seraphim

We are thrilled to share the news that portfolio company Opteran, has secured $12 million in funding led by Join Capital, with additional funding from IQ Capital, Northern Gritstone, Episode 1, Schauenburg Ventures and with continued support from us here at Seraphim. In the next two years, Opteran will expand rapidly across international markets, commercialising a completely new standard for machine autonomy called Opteran Natural Intelligence. This approach re-engineers insect brain patterns to solve the fundamental limitations of current state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) and introduce the third wave of AI: genuine brain biomimicry.

Enabling global expansion

Having already delivered stabilised vision, collision avoidance and navigation, Opteran will use this funding round to boost product development and enable further international expansion. Opteran will open offices in the United States to support a growing number of customer pilots, and in 2023, it will add natural brain decision-making for machines. Opteran is also working to deliver hyperspectral vision, natural brain image recognition and dynamic learning based on inputs from the surrounding environment.

‘The benefits and step-change ‘Natural Intelligence’ can bring to the field of autonomy are profound. Within a Space environment, autonomous systems are truly on the edge where size, weight, and efficiency are critical. Opteran has the potential to be the world leader in this area and are at the forefront of U.K scientific innovation.’ Rob Desborough, Partner Seraphim Space

A new standard for autonomous machines

A recent academic article in Science Robotics[1], co-authored by Opteran Chief Scientific Officer James Marshall, highlighted how insects use embodied cognition to move around in complex, dynamic and often hostile environments. Autonomous machines must be able to interact with the world in a similar way to nature. Opteran can provide this type of real-time situational awareness for structured and unstructured environments by mimicking the function of animal brains. This delivers an energy efficient, robust and safe solution to deal with complicated visual and navigational challenges of autonomous machines, creating a new general standard.

“By mimicking Nature’s genius to enable machines to move like natural creatures we are redefining the global market for machine autonomy,” said David Rajan, CEO, Opteran. “We expect Opteran Natural Intelligence to become the standard solution for autonomy anywhere on the ground or in the air, on any machine, large or ultra small, because it combines such sophisticated natural brain capabilities in a light-weight, efficient package.”

Since its launch in 2020, Opteran has demonstrated its ground-based system, Hopper, and its 700g Opteran aerial reference drone. It has also piloted its technology with international customers in the USA, South Africa and Europe, who are developing collision avoidance and navigation capabilities in cobot arms, drones, and mining robots. Sean Mitchell, founder and CEO, Movidius has joined as Chairman, while AI expert and co-founder Amazon Prime Air, Gur Kimchi, has been appointed an advisor, and Rafferty Jackson, former head of global strategy at Beats, is a Non-Executive Director.  

[1] “Insect-inspired AI for autonomous robots,” G. C. H. E. De Croon, J. J. G. Dupeyroux, S. B. Fuller AND J. A. R. Marshall, Science Robotics, 15th June 2022