Porsche invests in Israeli start-up to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles

Key Points
  • Tel Aviv-based start-up TriEye specializes in short-wave infrared cameras.
  • There is excitement surrounding the development of autonomous vehicles, but challenges remain.
Joe Klamar | AFP | Getty Images

Volkswagen-owned Porsche acquired a minority stake in Israeli firm TriEye Wednesday, with the aim of improving safety features in its next-generation cars.

Tel Aviv-based start-up TriEye specializes in short-wave infrared (SWIR) cameras. It's developed a semi-conductor design that, according to Porsche, can be used to manufacture high definition short-wave infrared cameras "at a fraction of their current cost."

In a statement Wednesday, the German carmaker said TriEye's technology would boost safety in vehicles that had driver-assistance systems or autonomous driving functions through its capacity to "see" in poor visibility conditions such as rain, fog or dust. Porsche did not disclose a figure for its investment.

Michael Steiner, a member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche, said the firm saw "great potential in this sensor technology that paves the way for the next generation of driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions." Steiner added that SWIR offered "enhanced safety at a competitive price."

TriEye was set up in 2017, and has already secured funding from Intel Capital, among others.

While there is a significant level of excitement surrounding the development of autonomous vehicles, there remain challenges ahead.

In February 2019, the CEO of Arm Holdings told CNBC that it would be "a while" before self-driving cars became mainstream.

"It is a phenomenally hard problem to anticipate what a car could do under absolutely any set of circumstances," Simon Segars, speaking to CNBC's Karen Tso at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, said.

"I think you're going to start to see early services, in quite a constrained way, quite soon over the next couple of years," he added, explaining that there was "some way to come" before the technology was "completely mainstream."