Defense Ministry taps Israeli firm for autonomous driving simulation with IDF

Cognata to work with military to test and train autonomous vehicles in all-terrain conditions under simulated reality to meet army’s tech needs

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

The IDF will use Israeli startup Cognata's simulation platform to train for autonomous driving solutions. (Courtesy)
The IDF will use Israeli startup Cognata's simulation platform to train for autonomous driving solutions. (Courtesy)

The Defense Ministry has tapped the Israeli company, Cognata, the developer of a simulation platform for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), to train and test military autonomous vehicles in all-terrain conditions under simulated reality with the Israel Defense Forces.

The military will use Cognata’s realistic automotive simulation platform to evaluate autonomous tools for army use in different road conditions where there is no clear path or where the path poses challenges or includes obstacles, such as boulders, side slopes, and steep ascents. The testing will also involve extreme scenarios such as dense terrain, mountain navigation, and situations where soldiers must quickly jump out, according to a Cognata statement Monday.

The training helps autonomous systems to recognize vehicles and people, define passable paths, navigate obstacles, and predict the path of moving objects, the company indicated.

Cognata said it is operating in a market with increasing demand for land and remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) robots that could reduce harm to military personnel.

Founded in 2016, the Israeli company developed a simulation platform using synthetic data to mimic the real-life conditions and environments faced by autonomous vehicles. The solution allows autonomous vehicle manufacturers to test drive their artificial intelligence systems and sensors on Cognata’s platform and further develop their autonomous offering.

Cognata says its testing solution for self-driving vehicles can shave years off the verification and validation process for manufacturers, most of whom have few options to test their vehicles, due to costs, time, and available roads for testing.

Cognata’s patented technology combines deep learning, advanced computer-vision algorithms, and an artificial intelligence engine to create “multiple use cases” for companies in the automotive space, compressing the AI/ML training time to mere months.

Cognata CEO Danny Atsmon said the company was “proud to be chosen and work with Defense Ministry, supporting and accelerating the IDF development needs.”

“Highly accurate and scalable simulation technology is essential to validate autonomous vehicles in general, and algorithm safety and readiness specifically, within the nearly infinite combinations of real-world scenarios,” he added in a statement Monday. “Cognata’s technology rapidly creates novel visualization and synthetic environment approaches to enable improved AI/ML training that increases reliability, reduces human error in critical mission tasks, and positively impacts trust in human-machine teaming.”

IDF Major Vladimir Vakulin, a military Robotics Systems Knowledge Leader, said the organization was “looking forward to a productive algorithm development process, towards IDF excellency.”

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