Self driving cars are all in the rage these days. While companies that are actually manufacturing these cars are important, startups that are collecting the data that could be used to make our cars smarter and more efficient, are just as significant. Emphasizing the point BMW, Toyota and Allianz Group have come together to invest an undisclosed amount in self-driving car tech startup Nauto.
The amount of funding has not been disclosed. However, the investment forms part of the company’s series A, which previously saw it raise around $12 million in funding.
The company was founded back in 2015 and differs from your conventional self-driving car companies. While most of them are away, working to create the cars, or forming partnerships with software firms, Nauto is working at a more fundamental level. The company is collecting data, that may let the self driving cars of tomorrow, acquire the skills they need. For now though, it is using AI to help drivers focus when the going gets rough.
Nauto deploys a combination of cameras, motion sensors and GPS systems that feed a stream of data to a Artifical Intelligence system. This highly capable AI system can then take decisions based upon the data it receives. So, whenever there is a particularly risky situation on the road, or if the passengers inside the vehicle are creating too much of a ruckus, or in case any other situation with the potential to cause an accident arises, the AI alerts the driver of the same.
The two cameras, one of which is front facing and the other one cabin facing, also start recording in case they sense an imminent collision. The benefits of such a system are pretty obvious. In case there is an accidents, regulatory bodies will be able to see what really happened and wheather the driver was at fault or not. The clippings could also help the police, insurance services and the cab service, to get to the facts.
Also, in case the passengers inside the car are creating issues and could potentially be the cause of an issue — we have seen many accidents occur thanks to drunk passengers — the fleet manager is alerted and is able to view a live stream of things happening in and around the car.
Speaking on the topic, Nauto CEO Stefan Heck said,
People are familiar with follow the lanes, don’t hit the car in front of you and you will mostly stay out of trouble… But that doesn’t work in downtown San Francisco, or New York, with lots of people, traffic and parked cars. We’re building and using a data set to help OEMs and other partners develop the next generation of autonomous capability for vehicles in urban areas.
Pay special attention to the data sets that have been mentioned. Whatever Nauto’s current functions and mode of business, its importance is slated to expand exponentially over time when autonomous vehicles really take off. The company is amassing a rich treasure trove of data that is the potential to help manufacturers working to make self driving tech happen, train their automobiles.
Speaking on the topic, Toyota Research Institute’s Jim Adler said,
There’s an assumption in the industry that we will need self-driving cars to cover billions of miles across all kinds of weather, traffic and other conditions before they are safe. We think it will take trillions of miles to understand everything we need to. And Nauto is already out there, researching traffic and driver behavior in dangerous situation.
Almost all major car manufacturers are overtly or covertly taking steps towards a future with autonomous cars. This investment may provide the investors, some of whom are major car entities in their own right, with access to a data source that could prove to be extremely valuable.