Toyota, Volvo lead $31m investment in Israeli co UVeye
25 July 2019 - globes
UVeye has developed automated vehicle inspection systems with both security and quality control applications.
Israeli company UVeye (short for Under Vehicle Eye), which provides solutions for automatic external inspection of vehicles, has raised $31 million in a round led by Toyota Tsusho, Volvo Cars and W. R. Berkley Corporation, with participation by other investors, among them F.I.T. Ventures. Altogether, the company has raised $35 million.
UVeye was founded by brothers Amir and Ohad Hever in 2016. The company currently employs 80 people, 70 of them in Israel. It plans to use the money raised to expand its workforce in Israel. Amir Hever previously founded Visual Lead, which was sold to Alibaba in 2015 for an amount estimated at the time at $6-9 million.
The company told "Globes" in the past that the idea for UVeye came to Amir Hever when he arrived for a meeting at the Ministry of Economy and Industry in Jerusalem following the sale of Visual Lead. The guard at the building bent down to the ground to look under his vehicle, but admitted to Hever that he couldn't see a thing, but that he did it because there was a camera filming the area, and if anything happened, he would be seen to have done what he was supposed to do.
UVeye developed as a security company, and its systems were installed at sensitive sites such as embassies, military bases, and ports, with the aim of detecting bombs, drug smuggling, and so forth. Two years ago, the company decided to develop in the technical sphere, that is, using its systems to identify faults in vehicles. The company says that revenue is similar in both divisions, but that the civilian business is growing rapidly. It currently works with five vehicle makers: Toyota, Skoda, Daimler, Volvo, and a fifth manufacturer that the company will not name. They say that since it was founded, UVeye's systems have carried out millions of vehicle scans in dozens of countries.
The system combines hardware and software, and the company says that its algorithms learn what the relevant parts of the vehicle in question look like, without pictures of all the models being fed into it. The system is relevant to production sites, haulage, vehicles already on the road, and vehicle fleet management. UVeye collaborates for example with Israeli bus company Kavim. Volvo and Toyota plan to start using the system at their production sites around the world. The system no longer inspects only the underside of the vehicle, but also the tires and vehicle in its entirety.
"Premium quality standards are at the core of the Volvo brand and we are intrigued by the possibilities that UVeye's technology offers," said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. "This type of advanced scanning technology could allow us to take the next step in quality".
UVeye would not disclose revenue figures. Its business model is based on payment for use and not on systems sales. VP Marketing Yaron Saghiv says that the product fits in with three trends in the automotive industry. The first is autonomous vehicles: they will travel for longer periods of time, and it will be possible to construct inspection points that they will traverse in the course of the day. The second trend is Industry 4.0, and a switch by manufacturers to a single production line for different models. The third is the rise in the number of companies providing services to car owners.