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6 Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication Startups

In a recent article, we covered 10 startups that are connecting cars and the huge effect they could have on roadways in the coming years. Another interesting (and related) technology that investors should watch is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. The market extends to other methods of vehicle communication aside from just talking to “the cloud”. These other methods include vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-home (V2H). Just in case there are not enough acronyms for you here, we can also use another acronym to describe all these types of methods which is “V2X” or “vehicle to everything”. 

V2V communication allows vehicles to relay data to improve safety, speed up travel times, and plays a key role in autonomous driving. While there is some likelihood that V2V setups will be available aftermarket, most expect a fairly quick transition to V2V technology with the functionality coming as a standard feature in new car models. In December 2016, the U.S. Department Of Transportation issued a mandate that would require V2V communication capabilities in all new cars by 2023. That’s only 6 years from now, and startups are lining up to get a piece of that action. We’ve already seen some companies begin to include V2V communication capabilities, including the 2017 Cadillac CTS, which is outfitted with DSRC short-range radio communication devices that share data that include GPS locations, speed, and heading.

The most obvious benefit to allowing vehicles to communicate with each other is safety. When a car knows the position and input of other vehicles, the two can more easily avoid one another. However, the benefits of V2V tech run a little deeper than one would expect. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of V2V communication.

  • Safety. According to a Stanford study, 93% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error. With autonomous cars on the horizon, it will be important that those vehicles are not only able to analyze their surroundings, but communicate with them as well. Drivers could be alerted to upcoming dangers such as flooded roadways or traffic accidents. When vehicles are able to send and receive signals with other cars and infrastructure, accidents will be greatly reduced.
  • Improved Traffic Management. One often overlooked benefit of a V2V system comes in the form of traffic management. V2V communication could limit congestion and help to guide vehicles down new routes. Cities could use the tech to reduce road damage and improve emergency response times. V2V communication uses real-time responses and infrastructure signals to alleviate congestion.
  • Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Assistance. V2V communication could also play a big role in assisting emergency services. Police vehicles could use V2V communication to pull over vehicles or issue warnings to drivers. Ambulances and fire services could send communications to clear roadways in advance of their arrival.
  • Driver Assistance. Driver assistance could be a huge benefit of V2V communication. Even simple improvements such as informing the driver of traffic conditions, finding parking spots, or improving parallel parking are simple ways V2V communication could help. Eventually, V2V communication could assist the driver in almost every aspect of driving.

V2V communication presents a lot of very exciting changes in the near future with the potential safety improvements acting as the driving force behind its adoption. Aside from safety, we see a plethora of other reasons why V2V communication would be to the benefit of every driver.

Kymeta

Headquartered in Redmond, WA and founded in 2012, Kymeta aims to make connectivity for vehicles simple by using global satellite networks via the world’s first satellite antenna. The company has raised $217.58 Million through five rounds of funding to date, including backers like Bill Gates. The company recently raised $73.5 million in advance of their upcoming satellite antenna commercial trial. Historically, it’s been difficult to utilize satellite communications easily. We’ve all seen those big old radar dishes on people’s roofs that are used to communicate with satellites. Kymeta solved the problem by creating flat “satellite dishes” that they would prefer that you call antennas that attach to cars to connect to a global satellite network and relay information between vehicles. Every car and truck out there has a flat roof with space that can be used to accommodate one of these (bottom photo) or they can just be built into the vehicle’s roof (top photo):

Ultimately Kymeta hopes that their technology is able to expand connectivity throughout the world. Their tech accesses the large amount of available satellite bandwidth, rather than the cellular spectrum that other startups have used.

Autotalks

Autotalks was founded in 2008 and is a smart car company that specializes in V2V communication specifically for autonomous driving applications. The company has raised $75 million through four rounds of funding to date, and their product comes in the form of a chipset that aims to provide V2X solutions that offer reliability, security, positioning accuracy and ease of installation. Their latest product offering, the CRATON2, can be seen below:

For now, the company is currently in the designing and prototyping phase, with plans to enter high-volume production in 2019. Autotalks also recently announced their cooperation with Cohda Wireless.

Veniam

Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley startup Veniam aims to build city-scale networks of connected vehicles that expand wireless coverage. They have raised $26.9 million through two rounds of funding to date to develop the “Internet of Moving Things” and we highlighted them in a past article on the “Internet of Everything“. Veniam offers their Wi-Fi product for free to vehicle operators and in turn receives a wealth of big data that goes up into “the cloud” where they can do cool things with it. For example, 25% of the travel performed by service vehicles and public vehicles is unnecessary and much of this efficiency can be eliminated by connecting vehicles. Here are some numbers from their successful implementation in Porto Portugal:

Currently the company offers products aimed at fleets (Live Fleet), cities (Live City), and logistics operations (Live Port). Veniam sees their systems as a way to connect fleets, drivers, and cities to improve data sharing, safety, and logistics.

Savari

Founded in 2008, Silicon Valley startup Savari aims to merge infrastructure communication and V2V communication to improve safety. Savari has raised $8 million through a single round of funding. In late 2016, Savari announced a lucrative partnership with China’s SAIC Motor. The Company has placed a lot of focus on efficiency and safety. Their goal is connect cars, traffic lights, smart phones and pedestrians to the same network using agnostic radio solutions. Some of their products that are actually being deployed now can be seen below:

The Company offers a variety of solutions that include vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-phone, and infrastructure-to-phone. Savari has their sights set higher than V2V, aiming to be a platform for smart cities as a whole.

RoboCV

We covered RoboCV in a previous article about industrial robots. The Moscow-based startup develops autopilot systems for logistics and warehousing companies. To date, the company has raised $3.5 million through three rounds of funding. The RoboCV team first caught media attention after taking part in Google’s Lunar X-PRIZE competition, but quickly pivoted. Now, the company focuses solely on creating robotic systems that replace people in routine logistics tasks. Their most popular product, the RoboCV X-Motion NG, is an automated forklift that handles the movement of horizontal pallets without the need for a loader operator. All of their vehicles communicate with other vehicles on the floor to avoid collisions and improve efficiency. This type of V2V technology could easily be ported over to any vehicle type.

Cohda Wireless

Cohda Wireless is based in South Grafton, New South Wales and offers V2V solutions for automotive and public safety. The company has accepted $1.8 million through one round of funding to date. Cohda provides chips that enhance wireless communications beyond that of off-the-shelf IEEE 802.11p transceivers. The Company boasts that their technology is the “world’s most tested” in the space, having performed over 800 dedicated short range communication comparative trials. Their products use an IEEE 802.11p compliant radio, designed for precision to deal with the constant mobility of driving conditions. As we mentioned earlier, they’ve partnered with Autotalks to develop a complete V2V product offering. Cohda’s hardware and software products are used in more than 60 percent of all V2X field trials worldwide today. Customers include many carmakers, tier one suppliers, automotive chipmakers, road authorities and new market entrants.

If you were counting, this is actually company #7. Yes, the article said 6 companies, but the guys at Commsignia convinced us to include their startup in our list as well. Given their Hungarian roots and our weakness for Tokaji we added them. Key takeaway here? If you send us free alcohol our generosity knows no bounds.

Commsignia

Founded in 2012, Commsignia is a Silicon Valley start-up with strong European roots. The company has forged an enviable reputation for the excellent performance and robust security of its V2X software stack that is hardware agnostic and compatible with multiple RTOS (real time operating systems) as well as wireless technologies including 802.11p, 4G/LTE and the upcoming 5G.  Onboard (OBU) and Roadside Units (RSU) together with integration kits and software tools complete the portfolio for Automotive and Smart City applications. Commsignia is involved in V2X pilots with leading OEMs and Tier 1 companies and has supported deployments including the European C-ITS corridor, Compass 4D in the UK and US DOT Tampa Hillsborough Expressway.

Having proven the performance of its V2X portfolio, Commsignia is now building the world’s first connectivity platform for the fusion of V2X and ADAS applications. The aim is to integrate ADAS sensors with V2X connectivity to bring the reality of safely connected and autonomous driving one step closer. The company received an undisclosed seed investment in 2016 and is currently raising funds to support the expansion of its sales and marketing presence in key markets.

Conclusion

The V2V communication market is one that will become ubiquitous in the automotive industry. The need for this technology in autonomous vehicles is obvious, primarily it keeps the robots from crashing into each other, but there are many reasons why this technology will be useful in helping to power the smart cities of tomorrow. With V2V functionality being mandated in the United States by 2023, these companies won’t have to worry about the speed at which this technology is being developed and with the size of the auto industry, there’s room for more than one winner.

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