Pittsburgh self-driving safety firm Edge Case announces $7 million in funding | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh self-driving safety firm Edge Case announces $7 million in funding

Tom Davidson
Edge Case Research
A snapshot of the type of scenario Hologram, simulation software for testing autonomous vehicles developed by Edge Case Research, can create.
Edge Case Research CEO Michael Wagner poses for a portrait inside of their offices in Lawrenceville on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.

A Pittsburgh company working to make self-driving cars see better and ultimately be safer announced Thursday it raised $7 million in its first round of investment funding.

Edge Case Research, based in Lawrenceville, said the money will be used to expand its Hologram software that helps identify bugs in the software used by autonomous vehicles and will allow it to grow its staff of about 40 employees to about 60.

The investment was led by Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of the self-driving car company Aurora Innovation, which has offices in Pittsburgh and California, and ANSYS, a Pittsburgh-based simulation software company.

Edge Case CEO Michael Wagner said the investors are part of an “ecosystem” that together will work to advance technologies to make self-driving cars a reality.

”We’ve built an investor group that shares our mission to empower innovators to bring safe, trustworthy technologies to market. This ambitious vision is behind everything we do,” Wagner said in a statement.

Urmson said developing safe, self-driving technology is paramount. Matt Zack, vice president of corporate marketing and business development at ANSYS, said Edge Case technology will help the company move toward fully autonomous vehicles.

The investment into Edge Case comes at a time when investors appear to be returning to self-driving technology and companies are announcing a flurry of deals.

Aurora announced that it’s partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Monday to build self-driving vehicles and shared news later in the week that it had expanded its partnership with Hyundai and Kia. The deal expands an agreement from last year. Aurora wouldn’t say how much Hyundai is putting in, but it announced in February that it had raised $530 million. So that means Hyundai-Kia and some other investors are kicking in around $70 million.

The company already has partnerships with Hyundai and Volkswagen. Volkswagen, however, confirmed that it has cut ties with Aurora. The German automaker is working on a tie-up with Ford that includes a partnership with Argo AI.

Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle company partly owned by Ford, announced Wednesday that it would expand testing to Detroit. The company already is testing vehicles in Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington, D.C., Dearborn, Michigan, and Palo Alto, California.

On Wednesday, Uber announced that it would work with Volvo Cars to build a vehicle that comes off the assembly line capable of driving autonomously. The ride-hailing company’s self-driving system will be installed in production versions of the Volvo XC90 SUV. Various sensors will allow Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and maneuver in urban areas, the company said.

Uber and Volvo Cars partnered in September 2016. This is the third car they’ve developed together. Volvo says it plans to use a similar vehicle to introduce its own self-driving cars in the early 2020s.

Uber, Toyota and others announced a $1 billion deal in April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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