Autonomous Vehicles Spurring Startups from Voice Assistants to AR

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A wide range of startups are looking to seize the opportunity posed by the disruption of the auto industry brought on by self-driving cars. (Credit: Getty Images)

By AI Trends Staff

Innovations in the automotive industry, especially the move to self-driving vehicles, is spurring a bounty of startups intent on seizing their opportunity.

Ashutosh Padhi, Senior Partner, McKinsey

“The automotive industry will see more disruption in the next ten years than it has seen in the last fifty years,” stated Ashutosh Padhi, Senior Partner at McKinsey, in a recent account in YourStory. “And it’s not only about the head unit of a car. It’s also about the production process and it’s up to market time,” he added.

To describe the wave of startups, PwC has coined an acronym—‘eascy’—for ‘electrified, autonomous, shared, connected and yearly updated’.

The trends include:

Electric Vehicles. EVs are coming, but they need to address issues including: high price, poor battery, inadequate charging infrastructure, fleet electrification, as well as powering renewable energy-based charging grids and self-charging solar mounting.

Autonomous/Self-Driving Vehicles. With the autonomous vehicle market growing at a fast pace, investments are pouring in. Startups are redefining the use of individual mobility platforms. AVs are expanding the scope of last-mile deliveries, equipped with AI-enhanced computer vision to help avoid obstacles along the way.

Shared Vehicles. Riders are interested in a transport service and not in the vehicle as a product. Offerings can be described as car-as-a-service (CaaS) or mobility-as-a-service (MasS), subscription models that give the user the flexibility to change or upgrade the car when needed.

Connected Vehicles. The networking of the vehicle with the outside world is the idea of the Connected Car to communicate with other vehicles or traffic systems, or other vehicle occupants. The Connected Car can come with a tamper-proof digital identity that can enable tracking for insurance, driver safety, predictive maintenance, and fleet management.

The following selected companies illustrate how these trends are creating business opportunities.

Gluon helps to establish an interconnected network of vehicles, offering diagnostics, monitoring, software performance tuning, and fleet management. The app allows businesses to connect their vehicles with manufacturers, parts suppliers, repair shops, and other service providers.

Founded in 2015 in San Francisco, the company has raised $3.3 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Gluon developed its own hardware platform which includes a range of sensors. The device firmware can be updated over the air; its version 2 device is currently in the FCC certification stage.

Russians Seen Going for V2X Market

Autotalks of Israel manufactures semiconductors for use in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2X) communications. The chipsets link vehicles to each other and to infrastructure, to enable data sharing between all of them in a reliable and secure fashion. Founded in 2008, the company has raised $90 million to date.

Yuval Lachman, VP of Business Development, Autotalks

The company recently reached an agreement with Sreda Solutions of Russia to offer a V2X solution for the Russian market. “The Russian V2X industry has huge potential and Sreda Solutions is an ideal partner for Autotalks to penetrate the market which is rapidly opening up,” stated Yuval Lachman, VP of Business Development for Autotalks. He expects that Russian government support will lead to a rapid acceleration in the adoption of V2X technology.

Startup German Autolabs combines experts from the fields of AI, deep learning, natural language processing and product development to build an in-car voice assistant for the requirements of professional drivers. Founded in 2016 in Berlin, the company has raised $5.6 million, according to Crunchbase.

The company recently teamed with DHL Parcel UK to build and test a voice assistant for delivery drivers, so that drivers spend less time looking at their scanner while at the wheel.

Swiss startup Wayray develops holographic augmented reality displays that can be built into any glass surface, from car windows to cockpits. Drivers can see route-related information, emergency alerts and personalized content on the windshield. Founded in 2012 in Zurich, the company has raised $108 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

Investors include Porsche, Hyundai Motors, and Alibaba Group. WayRay was reported in a recent account in the SPAC Newsletter to be considering a merger with a SPAC [special purpose acquisition company]; it was seeking a valuation of about $2 billion, the report said.

Divergent 3D looks to have an impact on auto manufacturing with its Divergent Adaptive Production system, a hardware and software solution that aims to engineer, manufacture and assemble complex structures using digital input. Founded in 2014 in Los Angeles, the company has raised $88 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

The company uses high-speed 3D printers to make complex parts out of metal alloys, according to an account in TechCrunch. The system produces the structures of vehicles, such as the frame, subframes and suspension structures that are part of the crash-performance structure of the vehicle. The company last year produced the 21C, a high performance vehicle, using its 3D-printed vehicle platform.

Read the source articles and information in YourStory. Fast Company, the SPAC Newsletter and in TechCrunch.