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Startup Your Engines: How Israel Is Driving Global Auto-Tech Innovation

With no domestic automotive manufacturing industry, Israel would never be mistaken for a Detroit on the Mediterranean. But that hasn’t stopped this small country from becoming a global hub of auto-tech innovation.

Home to more than 400 active companies in the sector, the Startup Nation has reaped the benefits of cars’ increasing reliance on sophisticated software and connected technologies. Capitalizing on Israel’s unique strengths in artificial intelligence, computer vision, cybersecurity, sensor technology, semiconductors, the Internet of Things (IoT), and more, locally grown startups and multinational corporations alike have flocked to the country in recent years, seeking to get in on the action. In 2017, the Israeli auto-tech sector attracted $814 million in investment, a threefold increase over 2015 figures.

Blockbuster acquisitions, including Google’s $1 billion purchase of the GPS navigation app Waze in 2013, Continental’s $400 million deal for Argus Cyber Security in 2017, and Intel’s $15.3 billion acquisition last year of Mobileye, which develops advanced vision technology for autonomous cars and driver assistance systems, have kept the spotlight on Israeli autotech.

Amid a whirl of local activity and continued advances in smart mobility and autonomous technology, entrepreneurs, executives, eminent technology experts, and even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene in Tel Aviv for the 6th Annual Smart Mobility Summit from October 29-30. The wide-ranging conference will cover topics including state-of-the-art technologies, new developments and trends in mobility, and Israel’s commitment to reduce its oil consumption by 60 percent by 2025. Israeli ingenuity in autotech will be on prominent display – here’s a preview of just a few local companies attending:

  • While the connected technologies in today’s car fleets come with immense benefits for drivers, these “computers on wheels” are also vulnerable to cyber hacks – which is why Argus Cyber Security is developing advanced cyber solutions for the auto industry, from robust connectivity protection to over-the-air software updates. The company works with all of the leading car manufacturers, Tier 1 suppliers, and connectivity providers.
  • Utilizing machine vision and sensor-fusion technology, Nexar connects cars over an open vehicle-to-vehicle network, developing a deep understanding of cars’ surroundings and providing real-time alerts to prevent crashes. Beyond its auto safety and navigation applications, the company’s data is used by insurance companies for generating complete collision reports.
  • Valens builds automotive chipsets to promote connectivity within vehicles, including audio and video systems, Ethernet, USB, controls, and power. It’s all done through a single cable that transmits data with almost no latency, paving the way for smoothly operating semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles.
  • Leveraging proprietary AI technology, VAYAVISION has developed a raw data fusion platform that enables autonomous vehicles to perceive their changing surroundings, including object detection and tracking, lane detection, free space detection, and recognition of traffic and road signs.
  • For smart city planners, transit operators, and shuttle operators, optimizing traffic flow is key. Recognizing this need, Optibus leverages its algorithms and AI technology to predict and analyze fleet performance, enabling planners and transit operators to facilitate more efficient and seamless journeys.

As the world prepares for the autonomous age, Israeli innovators are at the forefront of the most critical developments in auto-tech, engineering a safer, greener, and more user-friendly mobility ecosystem – and they’re only just revving up.