Neurala Receives $250,000 NASA Grant To Bring Autonomous Software To Self-Driving Cars, Home Robots

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, notified Neurala today that it was awarded an STTR Phase II Enhancement (Phase IIe) grant to commercialize autonomous navigation, object recognition, and obstacle avoidance technology in ground robots and drones.  The $250,000 grant matches funds from external customer contracts and investments in this technology and is intended to speed development of commercial software.

Neurala developed its autonomous software for planetary exploration robots such as Curiosity rover to autonomously explore novel environments, memorize locations of obstacles or objects, learn about objects, build and update an environment map, and return to a safe location as part of the NASA STTR proposal.

What makes the software so innovative is Neurala’s use of deep learning and passive sensors, instead of expensive and power-hungry active systems, such as RADAR and LIDAR.  Any robot with a camera, even the ones with low computing power, can add the ability to navigate, perceive, and avoid collisions with Neurala software.

“The grant from NASA will significantly accelerate our ability to make this leading-edge technology available for practical consumer use.  We will be able to take technology designed for Mars and apply it in real-world situations for self-driving cars, home robots and autonomous drones,” said Massimiliano Versace, Neurala’s chief executive officer.

About Neurala, Inc.

Neurala, Inc., (, founded in 2006, builds software that makes robots smarter so that people can tell a robot what to do instead of how to do it. A pioneer in deep learning technologies that mimic the functions of the human brain, Neurala was named one of the 50 most influential robotics companies in 2014 by Robotics Business Review. Its patent-pending Neurala Intelligence Engine (NIE) is based on the work done by the founders at the Boston University Neuromorphics Lab (, which studies biological intelligence and embeds the derived fundamental principles in computational models of perception, motivation, decision making, navigation, and motor control, and bio-inspired robots and processors. Neurala’s research has been furthered by funding from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Investors in Neurala include Draper Associates Investments, Robolution Capital, SK Ventures, TechStars and other angel investors. Neurala is a graduate of TechStars Boston 2013. Follow Neurala at @Neurala or on Facebook at

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