Lacuna Technologies, a startup that helps cities create and enforce transportation policies by creating and managing open source digital tools, raised $ 16 million in a Series A cycle, bringing the total investment of the company at $ 33.5 million.
Since the startup’s inception in 2018, Lacuna has invested in helping cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and Miami create digital twins or software models of real-world cities, including all forms of mobility, from delivery to carpooling through drones and regular traffic. City planners and transport agencies can use these models to monitor the current environment and implement new regulations, as well as to perform simulations to provide a clearer picture of how certain policies might deal with congestion, traffic, and traffic. pollution, accessibility and safety.
With the new money, Hugh Martin, CEO of Lacuna, said the company is focused on expanding into new markets and creating applications that can be placed on top of digital twins, such as adjusting digital twins. freight or delivery parking rates to reflect demand or put a cap on the number of drones allowed on a given street per day. First, that means hiring new engineering teams to create digital twins and connect apps to help cities generate income.
âThe federal government collects billions of dollars in gasoline taxes, which are used extensively to fund transportation departments at the federal, state and local levels, and it’s heading towards zero,â Martin told TechCrunch. “What are we going to do? The gasoline tax has been a good indicator, but we need to find a new way to effectively monetize and take control of the public right of way. And I define the public right of way no. only in 2D, but in 3D. Where will the drones fly, where will the air taxis take off and land and how is the city going to communicate its policy to these devices in real time? ”
As cities focus on real-world public sway, including all street connections, speed limits, and parking rules, Martin says new mobility companies like Uber or FedEx are building digital models of cities and operate their businesses at the top, and the city has no way to access them.
âWhat would be super powerful is if instead of just having the physical world, the city has a digital copy of itself, with digital policies that could then be used by all operators,â said Martin.
Rather than using historical data to plan cities, Martin says Lacuna’s services have a more operational focus. For example, Waze routes cars based on congestion using its own digital twin. This can cause hundreds of cars to drive down a small side street when the freeway is blocked, which could be a nuisance to those who live there. If the city had a digital twin, it could assess the width of the street, whether residential or commercial, and the speed limit, and limit the number of cars Waze can redirect on that street, thus preserving the quality of life. of those living in this street.
âOur goal is to give cities the tools they need so that they can use their authority to ensure that public users immediately comply with their policy, whatever their policy,â said Martin.
In Los Angeles, for example, Lacuna built a system to help LA manage its scooter fleets in 2019.
âThe Venice beach was a mess, there were scooters all over the promenade and on the beach and they were being thrown into the water,â Martin said. âSo we helped LA establish a geographic barrier 200 feet from the boardwalk. LA gave scooter operators a two-month grace period, but warned them if, at the end of those two months, if passengers crossed that geographic barrier, the city would start reducing the total number of units that each operator could have on the streets.
To ensure compliance, the city council rewrote the regulatory language for obtaining a scooter license, requiring operators to comply with mobility data specification program, which means that operators should transmit and receive information digitally.
âNow it’s day and night,â he said. âThe scooters are all lined up 200 feet from the boardwalk. And what was amazing about the city was that there were only 15 lines of code. They didn’t have to send a group of officers, put up signs, write tickets. “
This cycle was led by Xplorer Capital Management and includes Playground Global, the founding investor of the company. Along with the funding news, Lacuna announces the addition of Keith Nilsson, MP and co-founder of Xplorer, to the company’s board of directors.