In the U.S., France is not the first country that comes to mind for mobility technologies, but it is nurturing an impressive tech community that aims to rival the world’s best in autonomous and connected vehicles.
From June 2 to June 14, France’s eight best bleeding-edge technologies and brightest entrepreneurs will be introduced to key players in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and Silicon Valley where they will present their innovations and pursue development partnerships. A jury comprised of top auto industry executives and a WardsAuto editor selected the eight companies from a group of rigorously screened finalists.
The visits are part of UbiMobility, a 9-month development program combined with a 2-week immersion into the key automotive and tech ecosystems in the U.S.
Now in its fifth year, UbiMobility was developed by two French economic development organizations, Business France and Bpifrance. Business France is a government agency supporting the international development of the French economy, and Bpifrance is a public investment bank that helps finance entrepreneurs.
The delegation will meet approximately 30 major players in the autonomous vehicle space, such as Uber, General Motors, Cruise Automation and Tier-1 supplier Continental; plus, members of the selection jury and their teams at Magna International, FCA Group, Ford Motor Silicon Valley, Aptiv, University of Michigan, WardsAuto, NVIDIA, Boston Consulting Group, Qualcomm and Valeo North America.
Launched in 2015, the Ubimobility program counts 32 alumni and already has enabled several to raise €127 million ($142 million) in four years. Among the companies, 16 have established offices in the U.S. and four are in the process of opening a subsidiary here.
Ubimobility officials say France is focused on North America because it is the first global market for AVs, attracting 48% of total worldwide investment – about $80 billion just between 2014 and 2017 – and because of its many global leaders in both automotive and key technologies.
“Through the Ubimobility experience, we would like to accelerate the capacities of our Mobility Tech start-ups on the North American market which is first in the world for autonomous vehicles,” says Pedro Novo, Executive Director Responsible for Exports at Bpifrance.
“In immersing them in what is best in the field of applied automotive technical innovation, we want to offer the eight companies the experience and the inspiration to accelerate their international development.”
The 2019 Ubimobility delegation includes the following companies:
- Actronika : A haptic-focused startup that boasts a broad menu of state-of-the-art effects and is able to reproduce up to 95% of the vibrotactile capacity of the skin. The company says simplicity, ease of integration and modularity are among its key competitive advantages.
- Devialet: An audio system company offering innovative and disruptive design, Devialet touts luxury loudspeakers with an impressive frequency range that spans from 14Hz to 25KHz for a sound that each passenger can feel as well as hear, plus numerous design, hardware and software innovations.
- MyScript: An automotive market leader in accurate, high-performance handwriting recognition, the company provides consistent results with any digital writing-enabled device. In addition to extremely accurate text recognition tech, MyScript boasts the ability to recognize complex mathematical equations, geometric graphics and music notation. The ability to recognize more than 70 languages and adapt to the way people write in fragments in cursive and without spaces helps drivers keep their eyes on the road.
- ProovStation: Every year, millions of cars are rented and all of them require a regular inspection. Most of them rely on outdated, disputable and costly paper-based processes at every stage of the value chain. ProovStation is a customized gantry that automatically detects and analyzes all damage present on a vehicle. Everything is automated, and a high-resolution 360-degree photo scan is made in less than three seconds. The system generates a time-stamped, geolocated and Blockchain-secured report providing the information on the condition of the car, including the smallest damages.
- QuasarDB: Connected vehicles are beginning to generate huge volumes of real-time data required for training artificial intelligence systems and real-time decision making. How can data analysts access this huge data pile for timeseries analysis and swift follow-up action when current systems require them to copy all data to their own servers before executing queries and performing analysis? QuasarDB says no current database solution can cope with the required volumes and transfer speeds of real-time data to handle this properly. But QuasarDB says it has developed a revolutionary database system to fill the gap and claims to be the only time series database that combines large scale storage and instant querying at both central and edged levels, thanks to its innovative database system design that avoids copying and buffering during the querying process.
- Transatel : This company is a global IoT mobile virtual network operator providing a worldwide connectivity solution that helps customers easily connect vehicles to cellular radio networks throughout the world. Transatel’s solution is based on its own 901 network code, with the same SIM card, which gives the customer access to global coverage and possibly several networks within the same territory. Any extension of coverage (such as opening of a new network or a new country) is automatically available for all SIM cards without an update. Transatel says this solution leads to advantages in deployment costs, time to market, simple management, data prices, connectivity coverage and the ability to deploy innovative and homogeneous connected services around the world in a secure manner. Most importantly, Transatel says its solution allows automakers to provide connectivity-based services like emergency call, vehicle software updates over the air, vehicle remote control, fleet management, predictive maintenance, stolen vehicle tracking, music streaming and access to points of interest to enrich navigation services.
- Watt park: Describing itself as an Airbnb for EV chargers, Wattpark has developed the first bookable smart charging point. It is a patented collaborative charging station managed through an app and therefore provides software and a coupled hardware solution at once. Wattpark claims to be not only the cheapest connected point of charge on the market, but also the most advanced in terms of features ranging from handling booking to monitoring and selling electricity.
- Wever: The Wever mobility manager is claimed to be the first massive tailor-made mobility manager that allows smart cities to develop smart mobility. It is a smartphone and web application which allows people to transmit their daily mobility problems. The platform reveals relevant existing solutions and enables users to build their own transportation solution. Wever’s algorithms identify the most appropriate services based on the needs and the interests expressed by users. Two artificial intelligence solutions are incorporated: dynamic diagnosis, which studies behaviours to drive mobility changes, and a dynamic on demand transport algorithm, which allows the creation of private transportation lines.