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COMPANY FOUNDED: 2006
LOCATED: Boston, MA USA
Of which, $14-million was a Series A round in January 2017 led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Sherpa Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, 360 Capital Partners, Draper Associates Investments, SK Ventures, and Idinvest Partners through its Electranova Capital II Fund and in partnership with Ecomobility Ventures.
Seed investment round was led by Draper Associates Investments with 360 Capital Partners and Haiyin Capital. Neurala is a graduate of TechStars.
A two-year-old child can autonomously explore his or her environment, identify goals, build an internal map and avoid obstacles using passive sensors (e.g., eyes and ears). Yet, even the most sophisticated robots today have difficulty with a task that is easily accomplished by a child. We believe that is because traditional approaches to robot intelligence are fundamentally flawed.
Neurala’s innovation consists in emulating brain function in software. This takes the form of neural (or deep) networks designed to capture basic navigation and perception competences exhibited by humans. Because of this innovation, Neurala software-only solutions can use inexpensive sensors and commodity GPU processing (U.S. Patent No. 8,648,867 awarded to Neurala) to control robots in real time. The hardware requirements are consistent with that found today in most smartphones: single cameras, mobile CPUs and GPUs.
The result is sophisticated software intelligence readily available for robots, drones, consumer electronics and smart devices used in the Internet of Things.
Neurala was founded in 2006 by Massimiliano “Max” Versace, Heather Ames, and Anatoli Gorshechnikov, while they were pursuing their PhDs in computational neuroscience at Boston University. They share a common passion and goal: to understand how the brain works in order to create better thinking machines.
Neurala founders designed of a new method for performing parallel calculations on GPUs (Graphic Processing Units), which can be considered visionary because GPUs at the time were being used only for graphics. Dr. Versace foresaw the day when GPUs would be common in low cost devices, such as mobile phones, or embedded into every robots. Today, that vision has become true.
Neurala and the Boston University Neuromorphics Lab are awarded a 2011 National Aeronautics and Space Administration Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract to design artificial brains to control autonomous robots exploring unknown, potentially hostile environments.
The work focuses on the surface exploration of planetary environments by robots, such as the Mars rover. On space missions, battery consumption, weight, cost and independent operation are critical. This work becomes the cornerstone of Neurala’s work that leads to development of algorithms that can be used on low cost consumer electronics.
Neurala graduates Boston TechStars and starts to commercialize the advanced research work developed by the company. Neuala’s founders are joined by a new engineering team and Roger Matus, a TechStars mentor, to drive commercialization.2014
Neurala awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Labs to design artificial brains for multiple sensory fusion. Unlike traditional approaches where sensor input, such as sight and sound, are processed independently, Neurala jointly process the information in the way that humans do. This enables information from one sensor to inform another sensor about what is important. For example, a loud sound can inform a visual sensor where to look. This work becomes the foundation of new software modules that enables robots being more interactive.
The U.S. Patent Office issued to Neurala, Inc. a fundamental patent (number 8,648,867) covering brain-based computational models with a priority date of 2006. It is considered an important foundation for real-time artificial intelligence, neural networks, deep learning and robotics applications running on graphic processing units (GPUs). Tim Draper and Robolution Capital lead seed round investment in Neurala.
Neurala receives NASA grant to bring autonomous software to self-driving cars, home robots and drones.
Neurala releases Roboscope, the first autonomous software app powered by neural networks, deep networks and vision to create a self-driving toy robot.
Neurala releases Selfie Dronie, using the same technology in Roboscope, Neurala makes it possible to create stunning dronies and awesome selfies with the push of a button.
Thousands of consumers download Neurala apps in the AppStore, making it one of the leading AI software applications available for consumers.
The U.S. Patent Office issues a new patent to Neurala covering the use of GPUs for artificial intelligence for the real-time control of autonomous machines, such as drones and self-driving cars. The patent covers Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs), including deep learning networks, running on Graphic Processor Units (GPUs).
Tim Draper and Haiyin Capital lead an investment round that brings the total investment to about $2-million.
Neurala joins the NVIDIA Jetson Ecosystem for GPU computing.
Neurala launches updated version of Neurala Selfie Dronie for the DJI Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 drones.
Neurala announces a deal with Teal Drones to bundle Neurala software in every Teal drone that ships. The software enables automatic follow-me mode using an ordinary camera.
Neurala announces the closing of a $14 million series A funding round. The round was led by Pelion Ventures, with participation from Sherpa Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, 360 Capital Partners, Draper Associates Investments, SK Ventures, and Idinvest Partners through its Electranova Capital II Fund and in partnership with Ecomobility Ventures. Both 360 Capital Partners and Draper Associates also provided seed funding.
U.S. Patent Office issues a new patent to Neurala for a method that translates in a deep learning framework the multiple brain areas that are responsible for efficient navigation. The company sees this as the foundational patent for the next generation of autonomous drones, robots and cars.