Child’s play pays in driverless investment boom

Pure driverless plays are red-hot. Scale API is a two-year-old startup that takes raw visual data from driverless car cameras and sensors and translates the images:

They draw boxes around cars, walkers, and cyclists. They ID certain pixels as road, not tire, or flesh, not steel.

Identifying cars and bicycles sounds like a kindergarten activity, but in the current climate of investing in driverless technology, even child’s play pays. Scale API just announced an $18 billion(!) funding round.

Because of the increasing number of competing driverless companies, Scale finds it is duplicating the same labeling processes:

That means self-driving car companies are spending hours and hours of work, and lots and lots of money, collecting and annotating what might be mostly identical road data.  It could also prove dangerous. If only one company’s cars are prepared for the falling logs, what happens when another company’s cars encounter them?

Good luck getting companies to share their driverless data. With recent estimates setting the value of the data alone at dozens of billions of dollars, it looks like Scale API’s business will continue to thrive. Drawing boxes around cars might even be worth billions.

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