Weekly Brief: Nokia launches $100-million Connected Car Fund

Weekly Brief: Nokia launches $100-million Connected Car Fund

In this week’s Brief: Nokia, Microsoft, Nokia Growth Partners, HERE, University of Michigan, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Xerox, Bosch, Econolite, 2014 World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, CityMobil2, Robosoft, Google Maps, Waze, Uber, TomTom, Modus, MyDrive and Vanhawks.

Microsoft may have purchased Nokia’s mobile phone division and done away with Nokia’s name altogether on future smartphones, but the Finnish telecommunications giant seems to have no intention of going anywhere when it comes to the connected car. Last week, Nokia announced a new $100-million connected car venture fund whose goal is to identify and invest in companies that are advancing connected and intelligent vehicles with bold innovations. The fund will focus on companies in the United States, Europe, India and China.

Nokia Growth Partners, an independent venture capital fund sponsored by Nokia, will manage the investments in conjunction with HERE, Nokia’s mapping business, with the hope of growing the ecosystem around HERE's mapping and location products and services. "NGP's Connected Car Fund underscores that connectivity is rapidly reshaping what is possible in the car environment," said Michael Halbherr, CEO of HERE. "We believe that connected cars equipped with precise location awareness and sensor data can become powerful devices capable of helping drivers make sense of the world around them.”

In other news, it was a busy week for autonomous vehicles, as the University of Michigan broke ground on its new Michigan Mobility Transformation Center, where it plans to conduct research and development on automated vehicle systems, multimodal transportation and traffic performance management. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Xerox, Bosch and Econolite signed on as part of the center’s Leadership Circle and each pledged $1 million over the coming three years to get the research up and running. Construction begins in June in Ann Arbor, MI, and should conclude by September 2014, in time for the 2014 World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit.

CityMobil2, meanwhile, revealed the names of seven European cities and towns that will demonstrate automated transport as a viable supplement to mass transit. Traditional automated transport relies on guideways and other physical barriers that cut it off from public urban settings and streets. CityMobil2 harnesses connected vehicle technology and autonomous driving to remove those barriers. The towns and cities lined up for the demos include Milan, Italy; La Rochelle, France; Vantaa, Finland; and León, Spain. French company Robosoft will supply the vehicles.

In navigation news, Google Maps rolled out a raft of new features, including lane guidance for drivers and integration with Uber, which allows users of Google Maps to compare driving or walking to using the on-demand car service, which can be ordered with a single click.

TomTom launched three new personal navigation devices, the TomTom GO 40, 50 and 60. What makes these devices interesting is the fact that they tether with a user’s Android or iOS smartphone via Bluetooth, and use that connection to provide real-time TomTom Traffic. Call it a hybrid PND-smartphone solution. TomTom says that it’s not responsible if users exceed data allowances on their phones due to real-time traffic streaming. The devices sell from €159 and up.

On the insurance telematics front, Modus announced a global partnership with MyDrive. Modus will supply its data collection core competencies while MyDrive will offer data analytics and driver profiling to create what the two companies are billing as an unrivaled insurance telematics solution. A particular area of distinction, they say, is the ability for insurers to lower claims cost through driver-specific training, distracted driving applications and mentor/coaching programs.

Finally, imagine ripping along a mountain trail or through a tangle of city side streets while following turn-by-turn directions on your bicycle handlebars. Sound far-fetched? Not to Vanhawks. The Canadian start-up’s connected bicycle, the Vanhawks Valour, uses Bluetooth to connect with iOS or Android phones and channels navigation directions directly into the bicycle’s handlebars. The bicycle also includes rear sensors to detect vehicles encroaching on a blind spot. The company has already exceeded its Kickstarter campaign goal of $100,000 and says its first bike will retail for $999. Who’s ready for the smart bike revolution?

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Telematics Update.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Data Business for Connected Vehicles Japan 2014 on May 14-15 in Tokyo, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Update Awards 2014 on June 3 in Novi, Michigan, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, Telematics Japan 2014 in October in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014Connected Fleet Report 2014The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013


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