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Verizon Invests $10 Million in Renovo Auto

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【Summary】Analysts speculate that the leading communications technology brand is interested in Renovo because it already holds the necessary permit to start driverless testing on public roads in the state of California.

Michael Cheng    May 02, 2017 6:15 AM PT
Verizon Invests $10 Million in Renovo Auto

Renovo Auto, a self-driving startup with monumental ambitions, is carving its own path in the nascent driverless industry. In 2015, the company caught the attention of auto tech enthusiasts when it released a video of an autonomous DeLorean car (MARTY) executing clean donuts without a driver. It also showcased a $529,000 electric supercar called the Renovo Coupe that same year at CES.

In order for the startup to continue building impressive self-driving vehicles and platforms it needs stock piles of funding. To ensure funds don't run out, the business opened up a Series B funding round last month to investors. Renovo ended up closing the round (led by True Ventures) with a whopping $10 million investment from telecommunications giant Verizon.

Focusing on Auto Computing Tech

So why did Verizon invest so much money in Renovo? According to TechCrunch, the startup wants to align itself with the industry as an operating systems provider. Driverless cars are projected to consume up to 4 terabytes of data every 90 minutes, as it communicates with other cars (V2V), smart traffic lights and beacons (V2I), as well as businesses (V2B). Fleet operators, automakers and future owners of autonomous cars will need to subscribe to a service that is capable of facilitating such digital communication. This small but crucial niche is where Verizon is putting its eggs.

"Depending on how the market unfolds and what inevitable regulations will require as self-driving cars become more common, the sheer amount of data generated will grow exponentially. Autonomous vehicles use sophisticated video and GPS data to operate," explained Eric DuVall from United Press International, Inc.

But Renovo is a small company and Verizon, with its deep pockets, could easily afford to invest in a startup with more experience and mature projects. Analysts speculate that the leading communications technology brand is interested in Renovo because it already holds the necessary permit to start driverless testing on public roads in the state of California. Verizon could be interested in data that the startup will begin to collect, when facilitating pilot programs in live environments.

Connecting the Dots

Verizon's investment in Renovo will go a long way, as the startup is closely working with large companies in the autonomous car industry. So far, we know that Renovo has solid connections with NVIDIA. The startup's prototype that debuted at CES 2015 was powered by the Tegra X1 superchip – a robust processor packed with 256 graphics cores that is specifically designed for smart cars.

In addition to developing driverless platforms for private cars, Renovo is also interested in creating platforms for autonomous fleets (Automated Mobility on Demand). This niche focuses on self-driving technology for the elderly, children, patients with disabilities and other individuals who are unable to drive legally on public roads.

"Renovo-enabled vehicles command hundreds of sensors generating multiple terabytes of data—each hour—on a safe, secure, and scalable platform developed in extremely demanding environments. Renovo works with a wide range of leading companies who share our mission to bring AMoD to scale," said the company on its website.

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