Founders: Stefan Heck (CEO), Fredrick Soo
Headquarters: Palo Alto, California
Funding: $173.9 million
Key technologies: : Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, cloud computing, deep neural networks/deep learning, edge computing, machine learning
Industry: AI, automotive
This Palo Alto start-up is taking aim at a deadly problem: distracted driving among commercial fleet drivers. Nauto was started in 2015 by Stefan Heck, a Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of California San Diego and a former senior partner at McKinsey who co-founded its cleantech and sustainability practice. His research revealed that 70% of collisions with commercial fleets involved distracted drivers looking at a cellphone, or otherwise not keeping an eye on the road.
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Nauto uses in-fleet cameras and AI-based technology to assess how the driver is interacting with the vehicle and the road ahead in real time.
Data from the camera is analyzed with image recognition software to determine if the driver is looking at his phone, is tailgating, or if his head is drooping because he's sleepy. Nauto has a three-tiered alert system, with beeps and audible "distracted" warnings to get drivers' attention and bring their focus back to the road. It also lets fleet operators offer coaching services to drivers to help them become more informed about safety and lets them access high-resolution videos for their insurance company in the event of a collision.
Nauto says its systems have been deployed in more than 250 fleets across the U.S., Japan and Europe and have recorded over 250 million AI-processed miles. The company claims that fleets using its products have seen a 54% decrease in distracted driving events per hour of driving. Nauto has raised nearly $174 million from Greylock Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund. Reid Hoffman, a partner at Greylock and co-founder of LinkedIn, is a board member.