Otonomo raises $12 million to delve into connected data from cars

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【Summary】Self-driving car start-up Otonomo has raised $12 million in venture funding to develop business opportunities in connected data from cars.

Original Claire    Nov 08, 2016 4:00 PM PT
Otonomo raises $12 million to delve into connected data from cars

Cars are getting increasingly high-tech with each passing day. Soon there will be more and more vehicles connected to the Internet. Collecting data from cars is a topic of great interest to automakers. One might not think of this data as useful, but others with a keen eye and a different angle may well find it profitable.

Self-driving car start-up Otonomo is a company that has its eyes on connected data. Founded in 2015 in Tel Aviv, Israel, its cloud-based platform links service providers and app developers with millions of connected cars. It recently has raised $12 million in venture funding to further its technological research and business expansion. 

The lead investor is Bessemer Venture Partners, joined by StageOne Ventures, Maniv Mobility and LocalGlobe.

How could this data be useful -- or profitable? Otonomo's CEO and cofounder Ben Volkow offered some examples.

To begin, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation could collect data regarding driver behavior at major city intersections to optimize traffic lights for increased safety. For vehicles stuck in traffic jams for quite a while, some nearby shops such as Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts or McDonalds could deliver a coupon to drivers for them to grab a cup of coffee or tea later on. And insurance companies could obtain data directly from a vehicle, rather than waiting for a driver to self-report it in the event of a car crash in order to process claims faster.

Volkow realized many automakers show strong interest in working with Otonomo, as the company's cloud-based platform has created business opportunities in terms of utilizing the collected data.

However, data collected from personal-owned cars must pay attention to privacy issues. To be frank, getting certain data can be illegal if wrongly acquired. Volkow assured the public that the platform is a "trusted gateway between the services and apps drivers want and the security the automotive industry needs."

"Inside our policy engine we have hundreds of rules configured. We work with lawyers and know all the different regulations and rules. If a car maker shares data with whoever, they know we check all the parameters, then blur, anonymize and otherwise make sure they can share the data without violating anyone's privacy or rules," Volkow was quoted as saying.

The company is said to have started trials with some automakers and service providers. And according to an authoritative investigation organization, the market can be expanding in an extremely fast way: as by 2020, there will be a quarter billion connected vehicles on the road, enabling new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities. Anyone who figures out how to make use of the data could become a pioneer in future tech world.

With the new "hot money" in hand, Otonomo as a self-driving car company, will spend its capital on perfecting its core product while expanding its connected-data systems.

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