The investment will be used to deploy its retrofit safety and networking system into more vehicles worldwide, according to the company.
Silicon Valley start-up Nauto, which uses artificial intelligence-powered system and data platform to improve fleet safety, has secured $159 million in Series B financing from a group of investors led by SoftBank Group and Greylock Partners.
Previous investors, including global car companies BMW iVentures, General Motors Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures, as well as insurance provider Allianz Group and Series A investors Playground Global and Draper Nexus, also participated in the new round of financing.
The start-up said the investment will be used to deploy its retrofit safety and networking system into more vehicles worldwide, as well as support the expansion of the Nauto data platform in autonomous vehicle research and development across multiple automakers.
In 2016, Nauto introduced a computer vision system to retrofit cars with driver assistance technology. In an interview with EE Times' Junko Yoshida, CEO Stefan Heck said the system—a small box designed to attach between the rear-view mirror and the windshield—learns what's happening on the street as well as the human driver's behaviour.
Nauto is an automotive data platform, powered by artificial intelligence and an after-market dual-camera device, which can equip any vehicle or fleet with safety and networking features. The Nauto 2 system also includes a new windshield mounted hardware design, updated deep learning and computer vision algorithms and smart cloud network informed by the accumulation of more than a million miles on urban streets and highways.
Because Nauto learns from other drivers, the road and conditions around vehicles in the Nauto network, fleets equipped with Nauto can automatically capture and upload video of significant events and insights in real time to help fleet managers improve overall driver performance and enhance the safety and efficiency of an entire fleet. Nauto’s scoring system, called VERA (Vision Enhanced Risk Assessment) includes a risk rating for the frequency and severity of distraction events.
"At a time when traffic fatalities are climbing and distracted driving causes more than half of all crashes, we’re tackling that problem by putting Nauto’s safety features into more commercial fleet vehicles—from trucks and vans to buses and passenger cars—to warn drivers and coach them on how to stay focused," Heck said in a statement.
SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said Nauto's "valuable" data for autonomous driving "will help accelerate the development and adoption of safe, effective self-driving technology."
As part of the funding round, Greylock’s Hoffman and SoftBank’s Shu Nyatta will take board seats at Nauto, joining existing members including Heck, automotive industry veteran Karen C. Francis and Bruce Leak of Playground Global.