Mighty AI’s Training Data Helps Mcity Drive Mobility Projects Faster

Last June, when Seattle-based startup Mighty AI opened a second office in Detroit, the company said it chose the Motor City over Silicon Valley because of its proximity to automotive customers and a firm belief in the future of autonomous navigation.

Mighty AI has just deepened its ties to the Great Lakes State with the announcement that it has joined Mcity, a public-private test bed for autonomous tech at the University of Michigan. Mighty AI will provide training datasets to the 60 member entities engaged in driverless research and development at Mcity, allowing them to train computers how to better think like people and interpret their surroundings more precisely, advancing mobility projects faster.

“It’s really exciting, and it clarifies our role in the ecosystem,” says Mighty AI CEO Daryn Nakhuda.

Mighty AI provides “training data as a service” for artificial intelligence applications, teaching computer vision and machine learning models to do things like analyze sentiments, classify media, and verify images. The company’s operating thesis is that artificial intelligence is only as good as the people programming it, so Mighty AI says it relies on a global community of more than 400,000 annotators who specialize in labeling vehicle sensor data.

Mighty AI works in a number of industries, including e-commerce, healthcare, and social media, but the company sees a giant opportunity in autonomous vehicles. At Mcity, Nakhuda says the company’s dataset, based on information already collected in Southeast Michigan, will include more than 1 million labeled objects across thousands of images, such as vehicles, pedestrians, and other obstacles a car might encounter. He’s particularly excited about Mcity’s data because “there’s a lot of real world there,” which, in training exercises, is always preferable to contrived, lab-based scenarios, he says.

“We’ve definitely seen the types of projects we work on evolve dramatically in the past year,” Nakhuda says. “Last year, it was a lot of simple labeling and grouping. Now, we’re getting a lot more specific requests—I can tell the technology is getting smarter. It’s fascinating to see the evolution of complexity.”

The Mcity announcement caps a busy few months for Mighty AI. In September, the company opened a new office in Boston and now has roughly 60 employees company-wide. At the North American International Auto Show held in Detroit in January, Mighty AI was named one of the top 10 mobility startups at the show. In the past year, the company has also gotten some love from VentureBeat, Fortune, and Wired.

Mighty AI, Nakhuda says, is “just getting started,” but he anticipates 2018 will be full of new developments on the autonomous training data front, including source information from a greater variety of sensor types and new use cases for the data they gather.

“I think this year and next year are going to be huge in the mobility space,” Nakhuda predicts.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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