9 Auto Tech Startups with Cool Stuff for Your Ride
With most the auto tech talk being about autonomous cars, we’re becoming a bit concerned that we may be moving towards a society that discourages humans from driving. We previously hypothesized about an autonomous taxi company that could get almost constant utilization from vehicles as opposed to the 5% current utilization of your average car. That’s right, 95% of the time cars just sit there parked doing nothing.
Even with the low utilization rate of owned vehicles, the average American manages to spend 101 minutes driving per day. That means in a lifetime, Americans will spend a total of 37,935 hours on the road. That’s a lot of time, and that time spent traveling comes with many dangers. With recent advances in the auto tech industry, many startups have placed their focus on improving the driving experience with a focus on safety. In 2016, the auto tech industry topped $1 billion in financing which means lots of cool auto tech stuff is being developed that we need to keep an eye on as investors, not to mention be aware of for sprucing up our own vehicles. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting auto tech startups that investors should be watching in 2017.
Vehicle Vision: Quanergy
We’ve covered Quanergy and LiDAR sensors in a past article and since then demand for LiDAR continues to surge. Founded in late 2012, Quanergy provides LiDAR sensors and software for capturing and processing 3D mapping data. The Company has raised $135 million through 4 rounds of investing. Most recently, the company raised $90 million in their Series B funding round that took place in August 2016.
Quanergy has made quite a splash in the auto tech industry. At CES 2017, the company’s solid state LiDAR sensor won the Best of Innovation Award in the Vehicle Intelligence category. LiDAR systems typically cost $8,000-$10,000, but Quanergy claims that their systems could be available for less than $100.
Quanergy’s sensors are much smaller than other sensors currently on the market and feature no moving parts. This makes them extremely durable and gives manufacturers the ability to conceal the sensors within the body of the vehicle. The company has announced that they will begin full-scale manufacturing in 2017, bringing the first affordable LiDAR system to consumers. If you don’t want to wait, it looks like you can buy the RPLIDAR A2 on Amazon right now for $449. We’d expect to see some add-on products coming out form Quanergy that will make your car drive safer than you ever will.
Back-Up Cameras: Pearl
Have you ever marveled at the backup camera in a friend’s car and wished that you had one of your own? This first world problem is being solved by an auto tech startup called Pearl which brings rearview cameras to any vehicle. Installation is simple and can be completed in just a few short minutes without having to connect to the cars wiring. Pearl was founded in 2016 and has accepted $50 million in funding to date.
Pearl comes with two HD cameras embedded in a screw-on license plate frame. One of the cameras is sensitive in the infrared spectrum, helping drivers to see at night. The other is calibrated for daytime driving. Both cameras feature a seven-element lens with full 180 degree field of view. Additionally, the license plate frame features a hydrophobic coating to protect against water damage. The cameras are completely powered by a solar panel that is embedded within the license plate frame. Pearl communicates with smartphone apps, providing full-HD affordable backup cameras to drivers. Pick one up for $499.99 and you’ll never have to worry about backing over the neighbor’s kid ever again.
Dash-Mounted HUD: Navdy
The use of navigation apps are supposed to make driving faster and safer, but anyone that has ever hit a curb while trying to use Google Maps knows just how cumbersome they can be. Enter Navdy. Navdy hopes to solve this issue by ensuring that drivers never have to look away from the road while using GPS. The Company has accepted $41.8 million through 4 rounds of equity funding so far.
Navdy’s head-up display brings phones and cars together to improve navigation, communication, and safety. The Navdy unit sits on the dash in front of the driver, and features flip-up transparent panel where information is displayed. The device allows users to use navigation apps without having to look away from the road. Drivers can also take voice or video calls, and play media through Bluetooth systems. Navdy’s system is able to read both voice and motion gestures using Siri and Google Now to fulfill requests. You can pick one up on Amazon today for just $499.
Vehicle Cyber Security: Argus Cyber Security
In a world where internet-connected cars are sure to become the norm, cyber security for vehicles is important. Argus Cyber Security focuses exclusively on cyber security solutions for the automotive industry. The Company has accepted $30 million through 2 rounds of funding to date.
Argus offers a range of security suites that offer deep protection to vehicle owners and manufacturers. Their Connectivity Protection solution helps to protect telematics and entertainment units from malware. The system also detects operating system anomalies and isolates suspicious applications. Additionally, Argus’ systems protect against threats spreading throughout car networks. As cars become increasingly reliant on technology, those systems will be targeted by malware and other threats, Argus is at the forefront of cyber security solutions for automobiles.
Tire Pressure Monitoring: Aperia
Properly inflated tires provide a number of benefits to a driver. It extends the life of the tire, increases miles-per-gallon, prevents blowouts and reduces carbon emissions. Aperia hopes to solve the issue of under-inflated tires for good. The Company has accepted $28.9 million through 4 rounds of funding.
Aperia’s Halo Tire Inflator system connects to the rim of the vehicle and the inflation nozzle. It continually tracks tire pressure, inflating the tire when it is low to maintain tire pressure over time. It requires no maintenance, and handles tire pressure on its own. Although Aperia is currently focusing on the commercial driving market, the product could also be a huge benefit to private drivers.
Diagnostics & Monitoring: Automatic Labs
We first wrote about Automatic last year. Founded in 2011, Automatic has a stated mission to “empower drivers with knowledge about themselves and their cars so they can be safer and drive smarter”. To date, the company has raised $24 million through 3 rounds of funding to develop the device you see below:
Automatic offers a small adapter that plugs into the standard diagnostics (OBD-II) port of just about any car. This connection gives their software access to vital information from the vehicle’s on-board computer, delivered to smartphone apps. Available features include trip logging, engine light diagnostics, fuel usage reporting, crash alerts, and vehicle tracking. In their Pro plan, the device is consistently connected through unlimited 3G syncing. Their Automatic Pro plan is available for $129.95 on Amazon.
Dashboard Camera: Waylens
If you’ve ever been in a fender bender and had the party of responsibility contested, you probably know how much a dash camera would have helped your case. Dash cams can be a vital tool in insurance claims, traffic court, and as a tool for deterring thieves. Waylens aims to make affordable dash cams accessible to everyone. To date, the company has accepted $6.8 million through 3 rounds of equity funding.
The Waylens camera attaches to the windshield and connects directly into the OBD-II port in any vehicle. The camera features a 7-element lens recording up to 1080p at 60 FPS and a circular OLED retina display. The display provides information to the driver including time, weather, navigation, speed, and pitch. Users can also edit their dash cam videos through a web editing suite. The Waylens Horizon can be purchased on Amazon for $499.95 today.
Navmii hopes to change the navigation industry through crowd-sourcing information. To date, the company has raised $6.58 million through 3 rounds of funding. Known as the “Red-Hat of OSM,” for its open-source nature, Navmii offers navigation apps that have all the usual bells and whistles including turn-by-turn guidance, address search, and walking logistics.
Where Navmii stands out is in its live crowd-sourced traffic and map reports. Users can know as soon as a traffic jam, accident, or hazard occurs and change their route on the fly. The crowd-sourced nature of the program allows for faster updates and more meaningful data.
EV Charging: Evercharge
With the market for electric vehicles growing rapidly, those of you with electric cars know how hard it is to find a reliable way to charge your vehicle. This issue is amplified in apartments, and condos where charging stations are rarely installed. Evercharge seeks to put an end to this issue with their easily installed dedicated charging stations. The Company’s stated goal is to “make charging in condos and apartments easy by navigating the complexities of EV charging regulations, permitting, approvals, and capacity limitations”. EverCharge has accepted $1.85 million through 4 rounds of funding.
EverCharge’s charging stations are just part of their service. The company promises to handle everything for buildings, including on-site evaluation, HOA approval, installation, monitoring power usage and on-going support. As the electric vehicle industry continues to grow, apartment complexes will need to install charging stations to accommodate residents. EverCharge has positioned themselves to be an all-inclusive, low-cost solution to those issues.
When we think of auto tech, the first thing that comes to mind for most is electric cars or autonomous vehicles, but a fair number of startups are working on innovations that we can use on our own vehicles today. While we still don’t have digital paint that changes color via your smartphone, or tires that never go flat, it’s still good to see that innovation is happening for the good old self-drive gas powered vehicles that spend 95% of their time unused in our driveways.
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