By Steve O'Hear
Ravin.ai, an Israel and U.K.-based startup developing AI to autonomously inspect vehicles for damage, has closed a $4 million seed round. The investment was led by Pico Venture Partners, with participation from Shell Ventures and “automotive entrepreneur” Adam Draizin. It marks Shell Ventures’ first Israel investment.
Founded in 2018 and based in Haifa and London, Ravin combines computer vision and deep learning to detect and analyse damage in vehicles via standard cameras, such as a smartphone or CCTV cameras. The startup is initially targeting car rental companies but also eyeing up other markets for its tech, including fleet companies within the shared mobility space and used car marketplaces.
“We have all rented and bought used cars in our lives and there is always some discomfort associated with true car condition: Ravin’s mission is to create transparency around damage wherever vehicles operate or change hands,” Ravin co-founder and CEO Eliron Ekstein, who previously helped launch Shell’s digital business arm, tells me.
“Damage in vehicles is a massive problem, if you consider that vehicles get damaged almost every five seconds. For the consumer it’s a big headache because you’re never really sure if the car you’re picking up for rental, or the one you just bought, has some kind of hidden damage. For car rental, dealers and insurance companies, this translates to losses of over $100 billion due to damage undetected in time, overestimated repairs and the overhead of dealing with claims. This problem will only get worse as more vehicles are shared and people buy their cars online.”
In contrast, Ekstein says Ravin provides the needed transparency to facilitate easier transactions. This is delivered via what he claims is an “objective” vehicle condition report generated via the startup’s AI using off-the-shelf cameras. Vehicles can be scanned via a mobile phone walk-around (similar to a panoramic view experience) or by driving through a set of CCTV cameras.
“From there we create a 360-degree view of the vehicle and expose any damages, and in many cases some underlying problems, reasons and repair action,” says Ekstein. “This leads to frictionless rental and sharing of vehicles and minimises unnecessary arguments as both sides know about the vehicle condition. It also helps car buyers verify a vehicle condition, and finally helps insurance companies validate claims quickly.”
More broadly, Ravin wants to provide an almost “DocuSign-like” experience, where people can hand cars over in confidence, which Ekstein says is really what the sharing economy is all about.
To that end, Ravin says it has commercial partners across the U.S. and Europe, including Avis’ Heathrow Airport location. It plans to use the new funding to further develop its technology products and to expand commercial reach across North America, Europe and Asia.
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