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Road Assessment App RoadBotics Raises $3.9M in Seed Funding

With new funding from Hyperplane Venture Capital and other urban-tech investors, the Pittsburgh-based company plans to diversify and cover more territory.

RoadBotics, a company whose image-based app assesses road quality and damage, has raised $3.9 million in seed funding to continue expanding and improving, according to a news release Wednesday.

The lead investor was Hyperplane Venture Capital, a Boston-based seed stage firm that backs projects in a variety of industries that use machine intelligence, sensor technology and cloud computing. RoadBotics also received financing from other prominent urban-tech investors such as Urban-Us, Urban-X, Radical Ventures and Ekistic Ventures, as well as the Wharton Alumni Angels and Innovation Works.

RoadBotics uses a smartphone’s camera and deep learning-based image processing technology, the same system that moves autonomous vehicles, to collect and analyze roadway image data. When placed in a windshield with the app on and camera facing forward, a smartphone can collect image data and upload it to the RoadBotics platform, where deep-learning technology isolates the road from other parts of the image, assesses its condition and rates the surface. The rating is based on the presence, type and density of road surface features that pavement engineers would recognize during a visual inspection. The app then sends the results to an interactive online mapping platform called RoadWay.

In Australia, RoadBotics has helped engineering firm Fulton Hogan save its clients time and resources by eliminating the need to send crews into the field for weeks of visual inspections.

"Continuously monitoring a road network is a hard job, particularly when they can stretch for thousands of miles. It is costly and time-intensive to put trained engineers out on the road to perform assessments," said Benjamin Schmidt, RoadBotics CTO. "Improving the quality of the world's roads is one of the most viable ways to utilize automated, low-cost, high-resolution inspection technology and RoadBotics is leading the way."

According to the news release, the company was a byproduct of extensive research into autonomous vehicles by the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Formed in 2016 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, RoadBotics caught the attention of local governments, counties and engineering firms and is now being used in over 75 communities across 14 states and Australia.

Speaking for the city of Savannah, Ga., Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer Heath Lloyd called RoadBotics a foundational tool for data-driven infrastructure planning.

"Our goal is to use our resources as efficiently as possible,” he said in a statement. “RoadBotics helps us accomplish that by enhancing our ability to better plan and implement city-wide roadway replacement schedules."

RoadBotics CEO Mark DeSantis said the new venture funding from Hyperplane and others will help the company continue to develop and meet the demands of more customers.

"Because of our success to date, customers are asking us to assess and rate a wide variety of other objects on or along the roadway such as guard rails, signs and utility lines," he said. "We're very excited about the faith our venture partners have placed in us and looking forward to expanding the use of our technology and reaching new customers."