Blockchain/AI/IoT | July 11, 2024

TPG Rise Fund leads $90 million investment in AI for ‘smart cities’

David Bank
ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank

Don’t even think about parking in that bus zone. 

Buses in Oakland, Calif., last month were outfitted with AI-powered cameras to detect parking violations in bus-only zones. The AI systems will transmit the evidence packages to law enforcement where – for now – a human being will decide whether to issue a ticket. 

The AI systems come from Hayden AI Technologies, Inc. which this week announced it had raised $90 million in growth equity financing for its “vision AI solutions for smart cities.” Transit agencies in New York City and Washington DC also use Hayden’s “geospatial data collection sensor systems.”

The Series C round was led by The Rise Fund, the multi-sector impact fund of private equity giant TPG. “Large cities have a dual mandate of increasing operational performance and safety of their public transit systems while improving their energy efficiency,” said TPG’s Steve Ellis. Hayden’s offerings sit at “the intersection of accessibility, safety, and sustainability,” he said.

The anticipated impact outcomes include improved public safety, sustainability, and efficiency in cities as Hayden’s AI platform predict traffic congestion, monitors city assets, and optimizes transportation networks.

Hayden’s Chris Carter envisions “a true urban operating system – processing data and generating actionable insights that help cities become more livable for everyone.”

AI guardrails

TPG, which closed is third Rise Fund at $2.7 billion last year, led last month’s $200 investment in Foodsmart to provide personalized nutrition plans and food-benefits management. The private equity firm is in the market with its second Rise Climate fund, as well as a new climate transition fund. TPG’s Global South Initiative late last year announced an anchor commitment from the United Arab Emirates’ $30 billion Alterra fund. 

TPG has said it plans to grow the $19 billion in assets on its impact platform to more than $35 billion within two years.

“We expect our climate franchise to drive meaningful growth throughout 2024 and 2025 as we build on our market leadership position and impact investing,” TPG’s Jon Winkelried said on TPG’s first-quarter earnings call in May.

Hayden’s social media feeds tout school bus and cycling safety, reduced emissions, greater accessibility and on-time bus schedules. In Oakland, AC Transit announced that 100 buses would be fitted with the sensors. Vehicles illegally parking in bus-only lanes, including taxis, rideshare services and delivery trucks, will be subject to a $110 fine.

“Trained law enforcement, and not the AI software, will review the evidence and determine if a citation must be issued to the registered vehicle owner,” the agency said.

The agency said that an earlier software system had produced about 22,000 “evidence packages” of potential parking violations since 2022.

“With the deployment of Hayden’s new object detection hardware and software, a significant increase in illegal parking violations is anticipated,” the agency said in a post on its website. “Our transit district embraces the anticipated increase, not as a means to boost revenues, but as an opportunity to address and ideally eliminate the safety hazards caused by motorists illegally parking in the bus only lanes.”

AC Transit “acknowledges the concerns surrounding the application of AI technology.” The cameras will have no facial recognition or biometric detection abilities. Image that does not contain evidence of a parking violation will be destroyed within 15 days and the cameras will be angled to focus solely on cars parked in the bus lanes.