Techopia Live: uOttawa startup’s AI looks to save lives in a self-driving world

With the promise of a self-driving future inching closer every day, the need for a new generation of sensors to guide autonomous vehicles becomes increasingly important. Techopia Live ventured to the University of Ottawa’s E-Hub this week to talk to a startup that is using artificial intelligence to create the next generation of radar technology.

Sensor Cortek emerged out of uOttawa professor Robert Laganière’s computer vision lab. He now runs the fledgling startup as its CEO.

As a big believer in entrepreneurship, Laganière told Techopia Live that he felt his students – and private industry at large – would benefit from bringing the research being done in his lab into a startup setting.

“With the latest updates in artificial intelligence, we believed there was an opportunity for us to participate in the creation of the new generation of autonomous cars,” Laganière said.

Sensor Cortek develops radar technology for self-driving cars that uses artificial intelligence to augment a driver’s awareness of his or her surroundings. Erlik Nowruzi, the firm’s chief technical officer and a PhD student at uOttawa, told Techopia Live there’s life-saving potential in adding AI to sensors.

More than one million people die in traffic accidents annually worldwide, Nowruzi said, with the vast majority attributed to human error. With the advent of Sensor Cortek’s AI, however, “we can simply detect the objects, pedestrians and cyclists around the car and stop the accident before it happens.”

Sensor Cortek isn’t working alone on its radar tech. The startup has landed a partnership with France’s Valeo, a tier-one automotive supplier, to develop applications for its AI-powered sensors.

For a behind-the-scenes look at Sensor Cortek’s work, watch the video above.