Toyota, BMW and insurer Allianz will license technology from Silicon Valley start-up Nauto to understand driver’s behaviour, Nauto said on Friday.
Nauto Chief Executive, Stefan Heck, said in San Francisco that the technology uses cameras and artificial intelligence systems in cars to understand driver’s behaviour.
Heck said the car makers and insurer would integrate the technology into their test vehicles and use the aggregate and anonymised data to check driving habits, difficult intersections, or traffic congestion.
He said that the aim was to help develop their autonomous vehicle strategies while preparing for self-driving cars of the future.
The investment by BMW Ventures, Allianz Ventures and the Toyota Research Institute underscores the auto industry’s demand for smart systems.
The aim is to improve vehicle and driver safety, reduce liability and make fleet operations more efficient.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the parties will each have an equity stake in Nauto. A third unnamed automaker also invested, Nauto said.
Nauto’s current system, used by commercial fleet customers such as San Francisco’s Citywide Taxi, uses a $400 device attached to the windshield.
The device comprised a small camera and computer-based vision system with machine learning to collect and process data.
The system can detect behaviour such as drinking or texting, and warn drivers not to do certain behaviours – helping insurers to assess risk, prevent fraud and reward good drivers.
Nauto received a $12 million Series A round of funding in April.
Heck said in June, 2017 that corporate investors would get first insights to the technology but no exclusivity.
Automakers are free to build their own applications on top of Nauto’s data, Heck said.