Tactile Mobility, a tactile virtual sensing and data company headquartered in Haifa, Israel, today announced that it’s secured $9 million in funding from Porsche, Union Tech Ventures (the technology investment arm of the Union Group), and previous investors. Tactile Mobility chairman and managing partner of LAIG investments Jorge De Pablo noted that the company is collaborating with “several” global OEMs (including Ford and Porsche) and road authorities across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and he expects the capital infusion will accelerate product R&D on the eve of go-to-market operation expansion.

Tactile Mobility, which was founded in 2012 by Boaz Mizrachi, Yossi Shiri, and Alex Ackerman, provides tactile sensing and data analytics solutions for smart and autonomous vehicles, municipalities, and fleet managers. An in-vehicle software module running on an ECU or aftermarket device collects data generated by a car’s non-visual sensors, and it applies AI models to generate insights including (but not limited to) road quality, tire grip, RPM, paddle and gear position, wheel angle and speed, vehicle weight, and other vehicle- and road-specific metrics.

The insights are fed into onboard computers to optimize driving decisions before they’re uploaded to Tactile Mobility’s cloud, which produces a real-time and anonymized map of road features like grades, banking, curvature, normalized grip levels, and the location of bumps and potholes. (To date, Tactile Mobility says it’s crunched over 10.5 million miles of real-life drivers’ data.) Bespoke models handle tasks such as data ingestion, fusion, noise cleaning, and processing, in theory ensuring high accuracy without the need for human oversight.

Union Tech Ventures investment manager Rinat Yogev pitches Tactile Mobility’s suite as a means of furnishing OEMs and city officials with high-value driving data, so that they’re able to better conduct planned maintenance and optimize systems like adaptive cruise control and active suspension management. To be sure, the vehicle telematics market is a lucrative one, with some analysts estimating it’ll hit $104.10 billion by the end of 2025, up from $39.64 billion in 2018. That’s not surprising given that 116 million connected cars are anticipated to hit the road in the U.S. by 2025, each of which will upload as much as 25GB of data to the cloud per hour.

“Tactile Mobility’s technology, which is at the intersection of data analytics and vehicle connectivity, uses machine learning to provide real-time insights not only on individual vehicles, but on road conditions and driving safety,” said Yogev. “We are proud to support Tactile Mobility in their vision towards smarter vehicles and safer roads.”

In a statement, Porsche executive board member for R&D Michael Steiner added, “Tactile Mobility’s method helps us collect additional information about the condition of vehicles and roads — beyond conventional sensor systems. An integration into series production cars is planned for the start of the next decade. Among other elements, tactile data can further improve the assessment of the friction coefficient between tyres and the road surface while a vehicle is moving. The system’s potentials also lie in predictive servicing and optimising battery management.”

Tactile Mobility isn’t the only startup performing sensor fusion to measure road roughness, it’s worth noting. Swedish company NIRA Dynamics applies machine learning algorithms to vehicle sensors, controllers, and camera feeds to measure metrics like grip and friction in real time, and apps like RoadBounce detect problematic sections of road from smartphone accelerometer and gyroscope data alone.

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