Driving in the Networked Age
I have been thinking about the development and deployment of autonomous driving technology for years now. In 2015, I published a post on the future of autonomous cars, “Driving in the Networked Age”. That piece was deeply informed by conversations I had with my friend, Stefan Heck, the CEO and founder of Nauto. In my post, I said that in a world where all vehicles are networked and autonomous, every car on the road will benefit from what every other car has learned. Driving will become a networked activity, with tighter feedback loops and a much greater ability to aggregate, analyze, and redistribute knowledge. Driving will thus become safer and highly collaborative, with greater cooperation leading to greater efficiency.
I have known Stefan since 1988. We met at Stanford, where we were classmates in the Symbolic Systems major. Stefan and I quickly realized that we are both interested in the same intellectual questions about how the world should work, and the relationship between humanity and technology. For almost than 30 years, Stefan and I have discussed the same question, “How to do you help humanity evolve, both for the betterment of society at large and for each other as individuals?” We’ve both sought to understand how to elevate the human condition through language and technology. We are both systems thinkers set on figuring out how concrete action can lead to a change of the entire human ecosystem. And while we have taken different paths in seeking these answers, these questions have driven each of our life’s work.
Stefan has always been a sharp and original thinker and a doer. For example, Stefan was the co-architect of the sustainability practice at McKinsey. As he was building the practice, he was again asking how we can help humanity evolve. His thesis in that case was that we can do things that are at once good for business and good for the environment. He published his work in Resource Revolution.
Correspondingly, with Nauto, Stefan is seeking to completely redefine the transport grid so it is better for fleets, drivers, and society. Nauto is an automotive data platform, powered by artificial intelligence and an after-market dual-camera device, which can equip any vehicle or fleet with sophisticated safety and networking features. Nauto is focused on making driving smarter and roads safer today, and informing autonomous vehicle development in the near future.
I am thrilled to announce that Greylock has co-led the series B in Nauto, and that I have joined the board.
If you are a professional driver, Nauto gives you great driving assistance by alerting you to some dangers that you might not otherwise see on the road. If you are a commercial fleet, Nauto gives you both great safety tools for your drivers, and networked fleet management. If you are an insurer, then Nauto gives you unique information to improve your risk assessment and tools to improve your risk position.
The Nauto team is unmatched in its depth and and consists of data science and machine learning Ph.D’s, world class engineers, insurance and fleet industry veterans who are developing products and deploying them to professional fleet and insurance industry customers. The Nauto system consists of a windshield-mounted after-market dual-camera device, continuous learning smart cloud, and an artificial intelligence-powered autonomous vehicle data platform that adds powerful visual context and info about what’s happening in and out of a vehicle. Nauto can be retrofit into any vehicle to help drivers navigate more efficiently, avoid collisions and ward off distraction. Nauto technology has already logged and processed more than a million miles on urban streets and highways. And the Nauto team has already built the industry’s most sophisticated and precise driver distraction detection feature.
But Nauto doesn’t just help drivers and fleets today. The learnings Nauto is gaining at scale from millions of professional drivers will help pave the way for autonomy by understanding how good drivers collaborate, adjust to circumstances and even — at times — break the letter of the law to be safe (e.g. crossing a double yellow median to give room to a bicyclist). We want autonomous cars not only to avoid the edge case crash events, but to fit into our human world, our cities, and to make our entire transportation system more efficient. I am very excited about accelerating the future of autonomous transportation with the Nauto team.