The true bottleneck in delivering autonomous systems is perception – the ability for a machine to understand the world around us.
Univrses is a Stockholm based company working with clients to develop autonomous systems. They are experts in using computer vision and AI to give moving platforms, like cars and robots, the ability to understand their surroundings in real-time.
– We process images from cheap, readily available cameras to detect features like street signs, traffic lights, trees, parking spots, people, vehicles – and more. The world is constantly changing, second by second. For a system to be truly autonomous, it must track these changes accurately and robustly. This is still a big challenge, says Jonathan Selbie, CEO of Univrses.
When it comes to autonomous cars – that we’ve been envisioning for the last 10-20 years – the reality is that they must be able to handle a wide variety of conditions and cope with very unpredictable circumstances.
– We are on the front line in developing capabilities that can be integrated into autonomous systems and robotic platforms that increase their ability to understand a constantly changing environment, says Jonathan.
This technology is essential to one day being able to achieve truly autonomous vehicles – and Univrses has a strong, innovative position in the market. Still, when it comes to autonomous cars, there are areas that we, as a society, are only just beginning to deal with.
– The challenges around defining the regulatory environment or how risk is shared between users, software developers and hardware companies are issues that are only just starting to be discussed, says Jonathan. There is still a lot of work left to do, but it’s moving fast. These are exciting times.
Proactive Smart City planning for municipalities
Univrses perception technologies are now being used to improve how cities are managed. To develop so-called smart cities, and to support modern urban planning, you need data. Univrses are adapting their perception software, originally developed for autonomous systems, to run on smartphones. The software processes images from the smartphone camera to detect and map urban features. The phones can be deployed on vehicles operating in urban centres, like buses, taxis and commercial carriers, to harvest data. This solution can detect flaws, for example pot-holes, road-cracks, illegally parked cars, and temporary obstructions. The data can be used to populate “digital twins”: virtual representations of the urban environment that can be used to analyse, predict and control what is happening – all for the benefit of the citizens. Problems can be detected quickly and then promptly solved; given sufficient data, some can even be anticipated.
– It’s amazing to see what can be achieved in cities by increasing the amount of high quality data. Digital twins can be used to create a range of new urban planning tools. With these tools, city officials can make the city more efficient, says Jonathan.
Partnering through Urban ICT Arena
Univrses has had several opportunities to test and show their products through Urban ICT Arena, with more tests with Univrses’s data harvesting devices in the pipeline.
– It’s a good way to get a full-scale test, in addition to being able to showcase to municipalities how this technology, in the very near future, can be used to improve their cities, concludes Jonathan Selbie.
The partnership with Urban ICT Arena is a way to expand Univrses’ network. Making new and interesting connections helps the company reach, and become part of, as many interesting projects as possible.
Five quick questions
- Why did you choose to become a partner with Urban ICT Arena?
It was a great opportunity to network with fellow players in the urban mobility space.
- What are the most crucial factors in an innovation cluster like Urban ICT Arena?
Enabling the partners to interact both in networking sessions and in more structured ways, such as through projects that have been facilitated by Urban ICT Arena.
- For what type of customers can you and your team deliver the greatest value?
Those where a better understanding of the environment will enable improvements in the products and services they deliver to their customers. This understanding can be to enable a degree of automation, or simply to have better insight so that processes and
procedures can be optimised.
- What is Univrses in 2025?
In cities, data will drive development of everything from the built environment to the delivery of services. The city should be tailored and adapted for the benefit of the citizens. Univrses will be a key player in providing cost-effective and high quality data to city managers and planners so that they can deliver the urban centres of the
- How would you like to see Urban ICT Arena develop in 3-5 years?
Expansion internationally would be interesting. Making a bridge between similar initiatives in Europe would be a great way to continue the good work you are doing.