Applied Intuition: Powering Safety in Self-Driving Cars

When people describe self-driving cars they tend to focus on the convenience, freedom, and upside opportunities that they bring. However, the chance to make transportation safer could be an even more significant benefit since over 1 million people a year die in cars. We hope that people in the future will find it a curiosity that vehicles could have ever been unsafe.

Today, we are excited to announce our involvement with Applied Intuition, a company dedicated to putting safety at the core of all self-driving cars in the future. Applied Intuition has created software that allows car companies to simulate billions of miles driven, in a massive number of driving scenarios in any weather, road system, and with an extraordinary range of conceivable unexpected variables and circumstances. We believe simulation will be a core technology for ensuring that self-driving cars are safer than any form of ground transportation we have seen.

At Floodgate, we are incredibly excited about the opportunity for software-defined networks to make the world better. We began investing in the theme of networked transportation in 2010, first with Lyft and later with Cruise Automation. We see Applied Intuition as laying the foundation for safety that ties the network of self-driving cars together. We are also excited to be partnering again with Andreessen Horowitz on this endeavor. In this case, I am excited to work with Marc Andreessen, and I know Ann Miura-Ko continues to enjoy serving on the Board of Lyft with Ben Horowitz.

Applied Intuition’s simulation technologies combine innovations and best practices from automotive, robotics, analytics, and large-scale software development experience. Applied’s simulations can run at massive scale and enable new machine learning techniques to be used and analyzed for safer autonomous systems. In the future, such simulations will be core to the toolchain and development process of any company designing cars. And simulation for self-driving cars is just the beginning. Ultimately, this team has the vision and execution skills to offer the primary infrastructure for building intelligent safety into anything that moves.

It’s been hard to keep our involvement a secret, as the team has made breakthrough after breakthrough in stealth mode. Fortunately, today the company is announcing its funding, and we have a chance to congratulate the team on its legendary ambitions and progress to date.

“Made in Detroit” — Not just Silicon Valley

Applied Intuition’s team, culture, and product represent everything we seek in a great startup. Although I have great respect for the technical talent in the Bay Area, the Silicon Valley culture can be somewhat insular and unaware of the excellent work and accumulated learnings from other industries. However, Qasar Younis and Peter Ludwig were “Made in Detroit” before they came to Silicon Valley, working at companies like General Motors and Bosch before Google Maps and Android Auto. They and many members of the team are a “best of both” combination of startup acumen and ethos, coupled with a deep understanding, respect, and passion for how the automotive industry works. They aren’t trying to disrupt the auto industry; they are embracing it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the way we go places will get dramatically better and safer in the 21st Century. We firmly believe that Applied Intuition will be a Prime Mover in making this a reality.

If you would like to learn more about Applied Intuition, Bloomberg has a good summary here. Marc Andreessen offers his thoughts here. Qasar and Peter offer their introduction of the company here.

Co-founder and Partner at Floodgate; Host of Starting Greatness podcast.

Co-founder and Partner at Floodgate; Host of Starting Greatness podcast.