Reports indicate that Verizon Communications has made an investment in Renovo Auto, a driverless car startup. This is in a funding round led by a firm known as True Ventures. Though Verizon did not disclose how much it invested in the startup, the figure that was intended to be raised in the round was $10 million.
Renovo Auto, which made a name for itself after converting a DeLorean vintage car into a self-driving one, was started in 2010. The startup is now working on software that would work as an operating system for cars. This would be targeted at fleet managers and vehicle manufacturers to assist them in controlling their data and software in a group of automobiles.
Autonomous car data
Verizon’s interest in Renovo Auto was driven in part by the huge quantities of wireless data which will be flowing from autonomous cars in the future.
“One of the biggest markets we see as we look at this ecosystem is … there needs to be a significant amount of orchestration that goes on with the data that’s being generated by all of those vehicles,” Verizon Ventures director, Ed Ruth, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
According to estimates by Intel Corporation, in around one and a half hours, an autonomous vehicle will produce approximately 4TB of data. On average, a typical person spends 90 minutes in a car every day. This huge amount of data is what 3,000 people might produce in four years on the internet. Currently there is very little data generated by cars. Intel, just like Verizon, is another company that is exploring ways of managing the data that will be generated by autonomous vehicles.
Driverless taxis and delivery vans
The chief executive officer of Renovo Auto believes that there is a gap in the market since tech firms and auto manufacturers are yet to make significant progress in building computer systems for autonomous cars which are capable of path-planning, perception and sensing across a fleet.
Currently, the widely held view in the driverless car space is that delivery vehicles and robot taxis are going to pioneer the mass adoption of autonomous car technology. As a testament to this, Waymo (Google’s self-driving car unit) will be experimenting with autonomous vans loaded with passengers in Phoenix, Arizona.
The investment is not the first time that Verizon is venturing into the transportation industry. In 2016, the largest wireless carrier in the United States purchased Telogis Inc and Fleetmatics Group, fleet-tracking software firms.