Update: This post has been updated to reflect that Regulus’ chief executive is Yonatan Zur.
Over the next 20 years the autonomous vehicle market is expected to grow into a $700 billion industry as robots take over nearly every aspect of mobility.
One of the key arguments for this shift away from manually operated machines is that they offer greater safety thanks to less risk of human error. But as these autonomous vehicles proliferate, there needs to be a way to ensure that these systems aren’t exposed to the same kinds of hacking threats that have bedeviled the tech industry since its creation.
It’s the rationale behind Regulus Cyber, a new Israeli security technology developer founded by Yonatan Zur and Yoav Zangvil — two longtime professionals from Israel’s aerospace and defense industry.
“We’re building a system that is looking at different sensors and the first system is GPS,” Zur says. Using a proprietary array of off-the-shelf antennas and software developed internally, the system Regulus has designed can determine whether a GPS signal is legitimate or has been spoofed by a hacker (think of it as a way to defend against the kind of hack used by the bad guys in “Die Hard 2“).
Zur first had the idea to launch the company three years ago while he was working with drones at the Israeli technology firm, Elbit. At the time, militaries were beginning to develop technologies to combat drone operations and Zur figured it was only a matter of time before those technologies made their way into the commercial drone market as well.
While the technology works for unmanned aerial vehicles, it also has applications for pretty much any type of autonomous transportation technology.
Backing the company are a clutch of well-known Israeli and American investors, including Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, Technion and F2 Capital.
Regulus, which raised $6.3 million in financing before emerging from stealth, said the money will be used to expand its sales and marketing efforts and to continue to develop its technology.
The company’s first two products are a spoofing protection module that integrates with any autonomous vehicle and a communication security manager that protects against hacking and misdirection.
“We are very excited to lead this round of financing. Sensors security for autonomous machines will become as important as processors security. Regulus identified the key vulnerabilities and developed the best-in-class solutions,” said Ben Yu, a managing director of Sierra Ventures, in a statement. “Having been working with the company since seed funding, Sierra invested with strong confidence in the team to build Regulus into the category leader.”