Guident is making autonomous vehicles safer, with a human touch

Does your car drive itself? If not yet, it very well might soon. And sooner than you expect.

Analysts predict the global self-driving car market to grow from 20.3 million units in 2021 to 62.4 million units by 2030, at a CAGR of 13.3%. Of course, that is still a small portion of the almost 1.5 billion cars in the world – 300 million of which are in the US.

Still, these prospects excite Harald Braun, executive chairman of Guident, a Boca Raton-based startup that is developing software to power the next generation of autonomous vehicles.

“I focus on making autonomous vehicles connected,” Braun told Refresh Miami. The seasoned telecommunications executive, who was formerly CEO of Siemens, has goals that reach far beyond merely helping us get from point A to point B.

“We can change the world in terms of reducing deaths, reducing anxiety, reducing stress, and making the world a better place,” he said, acknowledging that hundreds of people die in traffic accidents every day – 95% of which are caused by humans.

After some discussions and planning with the CEO of Tekcapital, a British IP investment and tech transfer company, Braun decided to go all-in on Guident in January 2019.

Since then, Braun and team have developed a product that makes autonomous vehicles safer. The solution sits on top of the vehicle’s current software stack and connects it to Guident’s remote monitoring and control center.

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“Think of it as an air traffic control tower,” Braun explained. Guident’s human remote control operators can help autonomous vehicles deal with difficult edge cases that software can not yet solve. 

One example: shadows from a tree that software interprets as a barrier. In that case, a human would take control and tell the vehicle to move forward.

While the company is still determining the exact right number of vehicles a single operator can manage (the current thinking is five), this is significantly less expensive than having drivers in each car.

Apart from the financial benefits, Guident’s system also helps autonomous vehicle companies with legal compliance in places such as Florida and Germany, where human safety drivers are required.

Guident is already deploying their software in a variety of different contexts, including the local transportation authority in Jacksonville, the Boca Raton Innovation Center, gated residential communities, and hospitals. These are just some of the 11 key focus segments that Braun has identified, which also include mining and agriculture. 

Braun, a native of Germany, has been in South Florida full-time since 2002. He lamented the fact that major tech businesses like Siemens and IBM no longer have major footprints in South Florida. But he hopes that the continued growth of our regional tech talent pool will bring them back. He hopes Guident will play a part in these efforts: “I want to create another company that brings meaningful business back to South Florida.”

To achieve that mission, Guident is currently raising a $3 million seed round. This will enable the company to further develop their platform, while also continuing to expand their currently 11-person team. “We are looking for three to four more employees in software and sales,” said Braun.

Source: Refresh Miami