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Traffic AI Startup Brings Anthony Foxx, Stuart McKee Aboard

Hayden AI, founded last year, has pulled in two big names along with $5 million in investment money. The company plans to put cameras on vehicles like city buses and run the video through AI.

A city bus stops on the street just after a rainstorm
Hayden AI, a young startup that wants to mount cameras on city vehicles in order to capture traffic violations and gather data, has brought on two big names to help it grow: former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and former Washington state CIO Stuart McKee.

The company announced the news along with a $5 million investment funding round led by Autotech Ventures. Foxx, who was the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., before he led the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama, is an adviser for Autotech. McKee was CIO of the state of Washington in the early 2000s before he left to become Microsoft’s chief technology officer for state and local government.

McKee will become Hayden’s chief operating officer, while Foxx will become the third member of the board of directors.

"Both Stuart's experience bringing enterprise-level technologies to state and local agencies, and Anthony's expertise managing transportation policy, technology and public-private partnerships will be invaluable as we continue to develop our solutions and expand our reach," Hayden AI Co-Founder and CEO Chris Carson said in a press release.

Hayden AI sells both hardware and software; its website lists two cameras meant for municipal buses and school buses, respectively. Once mounted on vehicles, those cameras capture images to be fed into the company’s Safe Sense product, where AI algorithms are meant to identify — among other things — traffic violations. For example, a bus could show when vehicles are blocking bus lanes or crosswalks.

Along the way, the company also proposes to use the cameras to capture “curb assets” such as stop signs, parking meters, wheelchair ramps and more. This and other data could be used to provide fresh, regular updates to a city’s maps.

The bus lane concept has recently gone through testing in New York City, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority started using Siemens cameras in 2019 to ramp up enforcement against people blocking bus lanes. MTA has had success with the program, reporting increased bus speeds, and plans on expanding it.

AI has been making waves in transportation technology lately, with both startups and established companies launching products in recent years aimed at clearing roads, preventing accidents and improving maintenance. As the transportation secretary, Foxx publicly encouraged such innovation, especially in the development and testing of self-driving vehicles.

Hayden AI was founded in 2019 and has offices in Oakland, Calif., as well as Tokyo. Its advisory board also includes Jonathan Reichental, the former CIO of Palo Alto, Calif.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.