PassiveLogic raises $16m for digital twin development

  • October 19, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson
Troy Harvey, CEO and founder of PassiveLogic.

Utah-based PassiveLogic, creator of a fully autonomous building controls platform using digital twin technology, has raised $16m in a series A funding round.

PassiveLogic was founded in 2016 by Troy Harvey and Jeremy Fillingim to bring autonomous control advancements from self-driven vehicles to the larger buildings market. The vision is to democratise the technology so users can design their own custom autonomous systems without needing an engineering team.

“There has been a lot of talk about smart buildings in recent years, but when people say smart they really just mean connected,” said Harvey. “Our digital twin technology makes buildings truly intelligent and self-managing, taking them beyond conventional controls or other AI cloud add-ons in the marketplace.”

The firm says its autonomous building systems can be installed in new buildings or retrofitted in one-tenth the time of conventional HVAC controls and can reduce energy consumption by 30%.

The platform enables autonomous systems technology for any building, architecture or controlled system, without data science expertise or AI training. Before now, autonomous systems have required large engineering teams and years of training, and have been limited to a single use-case.

The company’s Autonomy Studio software empowers users without programming expertise to define their own system graphically using digital twin technology. These digital twins provide virtual analogues to real-world objects, powered by the company’s artificial intelligence IP called deep physics. This technique enables real-world objects to understand their own behaviour and interactions and learn in place while they operate. Since there is no programming code required, automation projects can be done in one day or less, rather than weeks.

Leading the round are venture capital funds Keyframe Capital and Addition. Physical infrastructure innovation is one of the core segments that Keyframe invests in, and Addition invests in early and growth stage companies around the world. Other investors include RET Ventures, A/O Proptech and NREP, representing the commercial real estate industries in the USA and Europe.

“PassiveLogic addresses a critical and large market need that has been consistently underserved by existing building automation companies,” said John Rapaport of Keyframe Capital. “Without open, flexible controls systems as the backbone for building systems, the promise of a highly efficient or smart building is simply out of reach. Many buildings have been surviving with insufficient automation for years, creating added costs, energy waste, and underwhelming tenant experiences. PassiveLogic has the controls architecture, unique autonomous building technology and ease of configurability to give building operators the controls they have been promised for years to close those efficiency gaps, at a cost that will work for all building sizes. We’re really excited about what this can mean for building operators, tenants and regulators at this tipping point of the digitalisation of buildings, and to play some small role in helping PassiveLogic follow that vision.”

The US Department of Energy followed the series A raise with a $1.1m contract to define an industry digital twin technology standard for automation systems. Additional backing for the standard comes from Swiss HVAC component maker Belimo.

PassiveLogic’s autonomous platform is built into its Hive edge controller that enables connectivity to building systems. Within a building, Hive controllers work together to provide an edge platform for sensors, equipment and IoT, allowing whole-building resilient control without requiring cloud connectivity. The Hive digital twin engine understands how a building’s equipment and systems interact, allowing local in-building AI to make the real-time control and management decisions that co-optimise comfort, maintenance, efficiency and operational costs.

In pilot projects, PassiveLogic’s approach demonstrated 30% energy savings, as well as 90% labour savings in programming installation and commissioning compared with conventional methods.

The platform scales to any building or campus, both in new construction and retrofit applications. There is a large worldwide market that will benefit from autonomous building technology, including specialised applications in factories, hospitals and data centres.

PassiveLogic has a growing roster of partnerships with many industry stakeholders, including building owners, operators, architects, engineers, contractors and utilities. Beyond autonomous operation and management, the platform paves the way for human-centric architecture, interactive energy networks, utility demand-response and smart cities.