Best automobile startups in 2019. Part 2
Best automobile startups in 2019. Part 2

This article keeps describing startups that provide conditions for fully automatic driving. The first part of the review can be found on the link.

DarwinAI

Founded: 2017

Raised: $3.9 million

DarwinAI is a company developing deep learning software. Its software is aimed at simplifying existing neural networks without decreasing their efficiency and core features.

This approach will allow developers to realize the operational concept of neural network and its decision making. DarwinAI is available on TensorFlow and will be soon added to PyTorch. To process non-surrogate neural networks, developers use GAN – a generative adversarial network. Based on obtained knowledge, GAN generates new, smaller networks that save main characteristics of the original.

DarwinAI’s results are quite promising. During one of the tests, the system generated a neural network appeared to be 4.5 more efficient than the system designed on Google AutoML and Learn2Compress platforms. In 2018, DarwinAI was included in insideBigData's IMPACT 50 list as one of the most significant AI drivers and in the top 10 innovative automotive startups according to the AutoMobility LA exhibition.

Although the company’s solution can be applied in various sectors, developers stress that DarwinAI will be especially useful for autonomous vehicles where software efficiency, accuracy, and speed play a critical role.

Carmera

Founded: 2009

Raised: $27.1 million

Carmera is a service with real-time updating high-resolution 3D maps. The camera allows it to focus on the infrastructure required for autonomous vehicles to navigate as accurately as possible. Besides, the company applies data from car sensors to determine vehicle location.

The app can be used for:

  • navigation (for users);
  • analytics before infrastructure planning (for service producers, state institutions, etc.);
  • monitoring cars from a certain fleet (for car sharing platforms).

Carmera is a finalist of the LA Auto Show 2018’s Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition. Earlier this year, the company announced its partnership with Voyage: the service would use autonomous taxis in Florida.

Drive.ai

Founded: 2015

Raised: $77 million

Drive.ai is a taxi service that creates self-driving systems using artificial intelligence. The company produces all necessary hardware and software for its projects.

2018, Drive.ai concluded an agreement with the city of Frisco (USA) to launch its car fleet in Texas. Taxis follow specified routes within clearly defined geo zones. Drive.ai’s fleet includes blue and orange branded Nissan NV200 vans. Electric cars are equipped with exterior and interior screens that display messages, allowing the vehicles to communicate with pedestrians and drivers.

However, in 2019, the company faced financial difficulties caused by poor sales of electric cars. Currently, Drive.ai is looking for customers among larger competitors.

Byton

Founded: 2016

Raised: $240 million

Byton is a Chinese manufacturer of electric cars founded by former CEOs of BMW and Nissan Motor.

The company introduced its first concept car at CES in January 2018. M-Byte impressed attendees with its elegant design. The car features an all glass cockpit with a screen interface and a 71 kWh battery able to overcome approximately 400 km without recharging. According to Byton representatives, the company received more than 70,000 preorders for M-Byte.

Byton is testing unmanned aerial vehicles in real world road conditions in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Munich, Hong Kong, and Beijing. The company is going to distribute its vehicles in the USA and Europe in the next two to three years. Moreover, Byton presented its second self-driving concept car – K-Byte – at Asia CES in 2018.

What deserves a special attention is the Byton Life intelligent system that the company is planning to integrate into its unmanned cars. Recognizing the driver due to cameras, the software immediately activates individual settings. The system remembers owner’s preferences, monitors their health, and provides tips. It is controlled by voice and gestures.

Byton raised $240 million within the first round of financing. At CES 2019, the company shared its expectations for collecting at least $500 million as part of the next fund raising. If it succeeds, Byton will be estimated at $4 billion in 2019.

Nio

Founded: 2014

Raised: $1 billion

Nio is one of the most rapidly growing Chinese startups, which specializes in producing electric cars. It conducted the Initial Public Offering on the US exchange just three months after the start of delivering its first crossover – ES8. This electric car is equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control and automatic emergency brake system. It warns of crossing solid white lines and objects in blind areas. Reportedly, the car’s computer is able to listen to, talk to, and help drivers within the whole journey.

The company is also going to produce the second, cheaper electric sports car, ES6, in 2019. Preliminary figures indicate that its fuel distance will be 510 km.

At the same time, Nio EP9 is the world’s fastest electric car. It can get to 199 kmh in 7 seconds, while its battery can be charged in just 45 minutes (on the average, electric vehicles require 2–8 hours).

November 2017, Nio raised more than $1 billion. Back then, the company was estimated at $5 billion.

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