Self-Driving Firm Recogni Nabs $102 Million to Make AI Chip

Recogni Chips Improve Autonomous Vehicles’ Detection Capabilities
Chip manufacturing
An employee works on the production line at a semiconductor factory in China. (VCG/Getty Images via Bloomberg News)

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Recogni Inc., an artificial intelligence startup that builds technology to support autonomous vehicles, has raised $102 million in funding after expanding into designing chips for generative AI.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company raised a Series C round led by Celesta Capital and GreatPoint Ventures. HSBC Holdings Plc and Tasaru Mobility Investments, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, also participated in the round. The company has raised $175 million to date. Recogni did not provide a valuation.

Founded in 2017, Recogni designs chips that help autonomous vehicles detect objects with greater accuracy. But in recent years, investors have retreated somewhat from ventures related to self-driving cars amid high-profile setbacks from leading businesses in the sector. U.S. autonomous vehicle startups raised $1 billion in 2023, down from $11.2 billion two years prior, according to data from PitchBook.

Recogni appears to have sidestepped that funding downturn in part by designing an accelerator chip that can be used not just in autonomous systems but also to support the development of generative AI models — an area attracting feverish interest among investors. But the company is not giving up on autonomous vehicles.

“The path to market is much quicker for generative AI,” said CEO Marc Bolitho. “Then, the same architecture will be used for later within automotive and autonomous mobility, as those markets typically have longer development cycles.”

The startup will use the latest funding to manufacture and market the chip, called Scorpio. Popular AI chips currently on the market can be used to support training large language models on vast amounts of data and also running these AI systems. Recogni’s chip will focus on a more specific part of the development process called inference, in which a trained AI model makes predictions based on new data. The chip can operate faster and requires less energy than some alternatives, Bolitho said.

By making an accelerator chip, Recogni is entering a field dominated by Nvidia Corp. Tech giants like Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are also designing their own AI chips.

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