“Innovation drives competitive advantage. Startups are in the front seat” – a quote that signals the impact emerging companies have in the automotive sector. Industry leaders like Magna already co-innovate with startups to move their innovation agenda forward as this type of collaboration promises to implement new solutions in a fast and dynamic manner. At StartUs Insights, we identify what’s next. To provide you with a comprehensive overview of emerging technologies & startups in the automotive sector, we have analyzed 1.500+ startups to shine a light on the key innovation areas in the industry. This in-depth research is backed by our proprietary AI- and data-driven innovation scouting approach.


Industry leaders like Magna already co-innovate with startups.

Internet of Vehicles

Connected cars are one of the most noticeable applications of the (smart) Internet of Things (IoT) in the automotive industry, powering functionalities like vehicle communications, vehicle monitoring, self-parking and others. This new generation of vehicles is equipped with internet access to devices in- and outside. Connected to smartphones, public infrastructure, other vehicles, car manufacturers, and cloud infrastructure, connected cars are to become one of the most important personal items. Moreover, the Internet of Things also allows for the monitoring of a vehicle in real-time, offering remote diagnostic services and reminders in regards to maintenance services.

From the production side, the utilization of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices drastically improves the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing operations, cutting down delivery times for new vehicles. Through connecting vehicles, OEMs can ensure that their manufacturing process moves smoothly.

The automotive technology startup Gluon establishes an interconnected network of vehicles, offering diagnostics, monitoring, software performance tuning, fleet management and blockchain payment solutions. Via an app, businesses can connect their vehicles with manufacturers, part suppliers, repair shops, and other service providers within the network.

Internet of Vehicles

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) & Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)

The concept that combines V2V and V2I, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X), introduces a new area of intelligent transport systems (ITS) through which it solves the coordination challenge between manned and autonomous vehicles and increases road safety while also improving traffic management.

Because Vehicle-to-Vehicle enables vehicle manufacturers to bring new functionalities to connected cars the technology gains in popularity. As the name says, V2V allows vehicles to communicate with each other thus sharing various data points such as location, direction, speed, and road condition via an ad-hoc network created by similarly connected vehicles. The technology proactively avoids accidents, eases traffic congestion, and makes room for advanced safety systems.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) equips vehicles with the technology to communicate with smart roadway infrastructure such as traffic signals, roadway signage, border and rail grade crossings, and to exchange information in real-time.

Israeli Autotalks is a fabless semiconductor company devoted to vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The startup develops chipsets that link vehicles to each other as well as to infrastructure to enable data sharing between all of them, addressing key V2X challenges: communication reliability, security, positioning accuracy and vehicle installation.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) & Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Autonomous Driving

The concept behind autonomous driving (respectively auto-pilot driving or self-driving) involves the programming and management of sensors, actuators, and car networks. Striving to enable vehicles to drive themselves without any human interference, level 5 autonomous vehicles are not yet on our roads. However, some autonomous technologies such as parking assistants, emergency braking, advanced cruise control, and the interpretation of human driving behavior are rapidly changing the capabilities of vehicles nowadays.

Aurora, the autonomous car tech startup that came out of stealth mode in January, designs soft- and hardware for self-driving vehicles. The company offers the “full-stack” needed to deploy level 4 autonomous systems (with an eye toward level 5) – from sensor packages to software and data services.

Autonomous Driving

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Smart Sensors

Sensors incorporated into the new generation vehicles are embedded into various objects and systems, collecting data in real-time (from radar and engines to cameras and more) and delivering analyses to regulate the operation of vehicles and pave the ground for autonomous driving. This has an immense impact on security, safety, and the cost of vehicle maintenance. In the near future, sensors will become more intelligent, even capable to pre-process and filter data. However, to ensure accurate operation in all conditions, a new grade of sensor-cleaning applications (deicing, dust or mud removal) is required.

Oryx develops a sensor system that enables vehicles to get a rich, precise and long-range view of its surroundings. Tens of thousands of silicon-made light-sensing antennas are installed in one sensor, paving the way for a coherent flash automotive LiDAR. The Israeli startup claims their low-cost coherent LiDAR achieves the depth vision performance required for true autonomous driving, has a better signal-to-noise ratio than scanning systems and produces both range and velocity data for each point in its field of view.

Smart Sensors

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence offers a vast variety of use cases for the automotive industry. For starters, advanced AI enables the monitoring of a driver’s emotions, gestures, and movements to detect signs of fatigue or distraction, ultimately preventing accidents. This feature is not only interesting for automotive companies, but also for insurers to identify risky drivers and assess damage claims appropriately. From a user’s perspective, the technology is rapidly transforming the in-car experience. Soon, we will see vehicles with incorporated AI assistants responding to voice commands and proactively guide drivers together with the vehicle’s navigation system. Moreover, artificial intelligence-powered vehicles permit the creation of digital identities thus recognizing drivers and granting access to a vehicle only to the people it is intended for. Taking it from here, the in-car experience will go as far as to analyze calendars, frequently visited locations, and smartphone application data to deliver a personalized experience via on-board screens.

Startup German Autolabs builds a Chris, a digital AI assistant for drivers with advanced natural language capabilities and gesture recognition technology. Moreover, an automotive-grade platform offers a world-class over-the-air (OTA) updateable digital assistance service for OEMs and Tier1. The combination of an interoperable, scalable software platform for cognitive assistance with a retrofit hardware device aims to democratize the latest connected car technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Big Data

Through applying advanced data analysis tools, connected cars are equipped to navigate effectively. Moreover, by analyzing data collected on speed, direction, position, traffic signals, pedestrian proximity and more, a vehicle can easily make a decision and employ an appropriate response – eliminating the risk for human error. Big data also enables engineers to design road flows according to actual traffic patterns resulting in safer roads while it also contributing to developers’ progress in fleet learning, data-enabled features, and car data monetization. Even though these applications already offer immense advantages to automotive companies, predictive analytics enabled by big data are bound to have all the more impact.

The Otonomo Connected Car Data Marketplace is a dedicated platform for the secure exchange of connected car data between data providers and service providers. The Israeli startup works with data providers, such as vehicle OEMs, and data consumers, including other service providers. Car data is cleansed, normalized and anonymized to protect privacy and maintain consent, making it easy for ecosystem partners to work with connected car data by translating into a standardized form.

Big Data

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality is a crucial asset for manufacturers as the technology supports them in modifying and assessing parts during the early stages of production thus reducing time and cost during the launch stage. Utilizing AR, engineers are able to design safer, durable and more efficient vehicles while it also gives them a complete image of how the car will perform on the road. Soon, augmented reality will lead to visualizations of vehicle repair diagnosis through generating a live image of the vehicle. What is more, AR enables the development of driverless vehicles as key performance metrics on route information can be shown on the windshield allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road. For customers, augmented reality proves to be a new way of undertaking test drives as the need for physical presence is removed through three-dimensional effects.

Swiss startup Wayray develops holographic AR technologies for connected vehicles. With its augmented reality navigation system, drivers are able to see route-related information, emergency alerts and personalized content information on the windshield.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Blockchain

Forward-thinking automotive companies intend to make use of the massive potential that blockchain holds. Widely considered a transformative technology, blockchain creates a trusted, accurate protocol that enables the tracking of parts of the automotive supply-chain, enabling car manufacturers, service centers and customers to trace the origin of spare parts back to its original manufacturing location and date therefore supporting the removal of counterfeit parts and shaping the pricing strategy of car manufacturers. Also applicable in multi-party transactions, blockchain facilities an immutable ledge – ultimately preventing intentional undesirable interference in vehicle data as data that is validated and recorded on the blockchain cannot be altered.

CyberCar develops a blockchain optimized connected vehicle platform. The startup captures and signs vehicle data at the source and stores the associated notary and signature values in an immutable blockchain. Interested parties can run their own blockchain nodes and participate in independent verification of vehicle data integrity, thus weaving an even stronger fabric of trust. As vehicles become sensors on wheels, the startup seizes the value of this data by bundling and storing it in a way that data integrity is incontrovertible.

Blockchain

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

3D Printing

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has already found its way from prototyping into production. Using this technology allows automotive companies to create customized, lightweight parts in a short time. In the near future, 3D printed chassis will not only improve safety but also make vehicles more cost-effective since the chassis can simply be replaced after collisions. But not only that – due to the significant progress additive manufacturing has made, it is possible to 3D print entire vehicles within just 44 hours.

Startup Divergent 3D leverages this technology to incorporate 3D printed joints (NODE™) to connect carbon fiber structural materials resulting in an industrial strength chassis that can be assembled in a matter of minutes. The company also claims to have 3D printed the world’s first “supercar”, BLADE (700 HP; 0-60 in 2.5 seconds; 635 kg).

3D Printing

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Electrification

Electric vehicles (EV) gain a significant momentum in the automotive industry. Powered exclusively by electricity and rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles shape the industry towards fuel-efficient cars. The utilization of high-capacity batteries that can be charged in a matter minutes further advances EVs, resulting in the ability to cover long distances in a single charge and, eventually, fully replace fuel-based vehicles. However, two questions still need to be addressed: Infrastructure & battery life. The real challenge of building a sustainable infrastructure in which vehicles can be charged at any point and store energy for longer to tackle long distance could be solved by disruptive startups. Fastned is one example of an emerging company developing and deploying electrical charging infrastructures and networks such as the ‘ultra-fast’ 350 kW charging technology.

Another startup advancing the ecosystem for electric vehicles is Israeli StoreDot. Using a unique multifunction electrode (MFE), StoreDot’s fast-charging electric vehicle battery (“FlashBattery”) combines two benefits of energy storage solutions by incorporating high-power, rapid-charging rate capability with high-energy storage ability. FlashBattery is capable of charging a vehicle within five minutes thereby preparing it for a roughly 480-km travel.

Electrification

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

As global automotive industry profits are predicted to increase to €79 billion by 2020, it becomes clear that the industry has overcome its crisis. Yet, key challenges such as complexity and cost pressure, diverging markets, digital demands, and a shifting industry landscape need to be addressed. While automotive companies are capable of innovating from within, a closer look at emerging startups and technologies provides them with the edge they need to stay on top.


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