October 11, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
Autonomous vehicle technology company Nauto announced on Friday that it has entered into strategic agreements with BMW i Ventures, the Toyota Research Institute and Allianz Ventures, part of global financial services provider and insurance company Allianz Group.
These companies have invested in the tech firm and are working with the company on autonomous vehicle development using the Nauto cloud-based data learning platform, Nauto said in a press release.
Nauto has developed deep learning capabilities that run both in the cloud and on retrofit devices that can be mounted in any vehicle, the company said, noting that Nauto is already deployed into commercial passenger, logistics and delivery fleets and enables these fleets to manage vehicle and driver safety and operate more efficiently.
The agreements enable Nauto to “significantly grow” its artificial intelligence-powered deep learning network and accelerate deployment into shared vehicle fleets and eventually migrate from retrofit device into new production vehicles. Under the agreements, Nauto and its auto and insurance industry partners will license data and technologies, including Nauto’s artificial intelligence-powered vehicle network.
“As more and more vehicles deploy Nauto, its connected car network will be populated with greater volumes of precise information on how drivers and vehicles behave and perform - understanding both how excellent drivers handle vehicles in real urban conditions as well as the combinations of errors, distraction, and challenging circumstances that lead to crashes,” the company said in the release. “The resulting insights will improve fleet safety and operations near term to save lives and reduce liability and expenses. Over time, they will usher in a new era, from human-driven to autonomous vehicles.”
The Nauto system - an in-vehicle camera and sensor hardware, a smart network and a continuous learning cloud - allows any vehicle, human or autonomously driven, to be retrofit with innovative safety and networking technology. At Nauto’s core is a “perpetually learning” artificial intelligence system which uses computer vision, GPS, vehicle sensors and data from its smart cloud to give a full, contextual and accurate picture and provide insights into driver behaviour, the company said. Nauto’s system stays “one step ahead” to prevent accidents before they happen, capture information about close calls, and learn from relevant vehicle and driver behavior, the release said. The system can also detect potential driver distraction inside the car, as well as safety issues outside the vehicle. It automatically uploads and tags road conditions and incidents that matter (drivers don’t need to manually input data) and alerts fleet managers to accidents, near-misses or major driving performance issues.
“As the auto industry experiences this period of unprecedented innovation, we’ve also reached a need for a learning network that will allow human and autonomous vehicles to operate together harmoniously,” Stefan Heck, CEO of Nauto, said in the release. “We want drivers, passengers, and everyone in the manufacturing and infrastructure supply chain to unlock the value that can come from pooling precise, but secure and anonymous data from Nauto’s network.”
Having the participation of “major players” in the auto and insurance industry is essential in establishing a cornerstone as Nauto re-imagines and builds a “safer, smarter and congestion-free transportation system,” Heck continued. “We are honored to have Nauto play an important part in building an onramp that will benefit the automotive and insurance industries, their supply chain, as well as human drivers, passengers and pedestrians.”
Nauto is working with the insurance industry to provide insights that help insurers offer enhanced services and build long-lasting customer relationships. “Insurers get a more precise view of each and every driver that can help personalize coverage, deliver precision risk assessments, reduce fraudulent claims and provide enhanced urban mobility services for commercial fleets,” the company said.
“The technology Nauto is developing has the potential to revolutionize the motor insurance business regarding claims handling, underwriting and profitability,” added Solmaz Altin, chief digital officer of Allianz Group, in the release. “We are looking forward to piloting this technology to enhance our value proposition towards customers and to contribute to road safety.”
Nauto was co-founded in 2015 by Heck, a Stanford consulting professor and former McKinsey & Company senior partner, and chief technology officer Frederick Soo, a neuroscientist-turned hardware engineer and entrepreneur. Nauto-equipped vehicles began gathering and learning street and driving patterns in more than 24 cities around the world, from Bangalore, India and Vienna, Austria to Mexico City and Boston, and are now in commercial deployments in the San Francisco Bay area and New York City.