Self-Driving Car Startups to Watch

The autonomous car movement is driving a vast array of startups, many with only a peripheral link to cars.

Startups developing biometrics and facial recognition technologies, for instance, are working with automakers that want to know if drivers are paying attention. That capability could help semi-autonomous cars know when the computer should take the wheel. And computer vision startups in this area could easily be applied to other aspects of tech, like home security cameras. Even automaker Mitsubishi is reportedly looking to apply its earlier work on guided missiles toward self-driving cars.

The result is lots of opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs across a wide array of areas in tech. Investors poured $409 million into auto-related startups during 2015, up 154% from 2014, according to CB Insights. Investors came from a broad range of companies, from Intel to Samsung to venture firms like Felicis Ventures. Car companies themselves are also spending heavily, with most of them opening research and development wings in Silicon Valley. (Our list of startups to watch is below.)

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Savari: The idea here is that vehicles could communicate with one another in real time, using a standard often called “V2X.” When cars can talk to one another, they can warn each other of obstacles and coordinate positioning for more efficient routing and traffic management. It’s an example of a technology that could be useful even if fully autonomous cars take a long time to get here. But it’ll also make sense to have this technology when cars are driving themselves completely. Savari has also run tests in which traffic lights detect pedestrians in intersections using their mobile phone signals and send warnings to drivers.

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