Mazda-backed AI firm can slash car development time "to months"


Latest funding round raises £16 million for Cambridge-based technology firm Secondmind

Sixteen million pounds of funding has been raised for British artificial intelligence (AI) firm Secondmind, whose tech is claimed to cut a car’s development time from years to months and “create better cars faster”.

Using machine learning (AI that teaches itself), the tech can both reduce the amount of errors in design and testing ten-fold. This leads to fewer corrections and 40% fewer costly prototypes needing to be produced.

Mazda invested an undisclosed amount in the last funding round, sparking a new partnership deal, and the Japanese brand will now look to utilise Secondmind’s tech in the development of its powertrains, primarily to slash engine calibration time by half. 

It follows an already blossoming three-year partnership in which Mazda has used Secondmind’s AI to simplify the ever-growing complexity of EV design and development in a bid to slash development time and costs.

It’s a big vote of confidence, with Mazda choosing to invest in a British company rather than one from Japan due to “the talent and technology” that Secondmind and the UK have.

The Cambridge-based firm also works with a number of tier-one suppliers and brands on applications including electric motors, inverters, engines, fuel cells, steering systems, chassis systems, vehicle architectures, thermal-management systems. 

This latest funding boost, which also involved Amadeus Capital, Atlantic Bridge Ventures and Cambridge Innovation Capital, will be used to scale sales and marketing and accelerate development of the Secondmind Optimization Engine tech. 

Secondmind CEO Gary Brotman said: “Secondmind and Mazda have been aligned from day one around a common goal of enabling continuous optimisation of vehicle design and performance and helping the automotive industry deliver in the era of the software-defined vehicle. 

“This expanded strategic partnership agreement strengthens our long-standing relationship of deep collaboration, and we’re proud to support Mazda in opening new avenues for AI innovation in automotive engineering by way of Mazda’s advanced AI research and education strategy.”

On the investment, he added: “We look forward to leveraging this infusion of capital to accelerate the development and commercial deployment of more high-value system design optimisation and calibration applications for Mazda and the automotive industry at large.”

Naohito Saga, executive officer in charge of R&D strategy planning at Mazda, said: “The automotive industry needs to further accelerate the speed and efficiency of development, due to the diversification of market needs and the increasing sophistication and complexity of technology, and we hope that our partnership with Secondmind will bring out-of-the-box thinking and innovative technology to Mazda. 

“We look forward to the partnership with Secondmind contributing to the further evolution of Mazda’s vehicle manufacturing.” 

Source: Autocar

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