3 Promising Startups Leading Israel’s Self-Driving Tech Race

Israel is positioning itself to be at the core of future transportation, as demonstrated by Intel’s $15.3 billion acquisition of Israeli software company Mobileye last week.

The country is now home to hundreds of startups developing the technology that will essentially serve as the brains of self-driving cars, and that places Israel alongside Silicon Valley at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle era.

Tel Aviv-based Maniv Mobility has noticed the growth, and is investing heavily in the space, so much so that the venture capital firm has set aside 60% of its income from investments — about $16 to 17 million — to fund future rounds in Israeli mobility startups included those in the firm’s portfolio.

“When they do their next rounds, we will want to protect our position in those companies,” Maniv’s Fund Manager Mike Granoff said during a Q&A webinar yesterday.

Intel’s acquisition of Mobileye is one specific example of an “incumbent player seeing great sense of urgency and excitement “ in the technology opportunities coming out of Israel, Granoff said.

Mobility Buzz took a look into the companies in Maniv’s portfolio. What follows are three of the most promising Israeli-based mobility startups in the bunch:

1. Guardian Optical Technologies Ltd.

Founded in 2014, Guardian Optical Technologies is developing an advanced 3D sensor that detects the presence of humans by identifying certain motions. The Tel Aviv-based company’s sensors replace in-seat pressure sensors, seat-belt sensors, and standard drivers’ cameras since they indicate location, physical dimensions, and the body position of each passenger.

The technology will particularly revolutionize the rideshare industry as autonomous vehicles are deployed. For example, it will be important for autonomous car to know how many seats are occupied during the ride, as it will have pricing implications, Granoff said.

2. Otonomo

Otonomo’s open-cloud platform connects vehicles and the data they generate to a rich ecosystem of apps, offering a wide range of services to vehicle owners while allowing them to maintain control over the data they share. The company “is extremely popular among automakers and tier 1 automotive suppliers,” Granoff said. It is quickly gaining traction, and the startup will have an announcement soon that will be “encouraging for all investors,” he added.

3. Oryx Vision

Oryx Vision is developing sensors for autonomous vehicle applications. What makes this startup particularly unique is that the sensors are not based on radar or lidar. Rather, Oryx is using micro antennas to detect light waves, thereby offering unmatched resolution and functionality in adverse weather — and at a low cost.

“There’s several lidar makers, but this is beyond lidar that it not only intends to produce a product at a lower cost, but higher performance, as well,” Granoff said. This company has “tremendous promise,” he said. It’s still in the early stages, but “the excitement I’m hearing from automakers about the potential to deploy this technology is palatable,” he added.

1 - Reader Likes This Post