BMW to equip smart cars with Israeli tech to better ‘feel the road’

Tactile Mobility’s software uses autonomous vehicle’s existing sensors to provide it with a better grasp of road conditions; tech will be added to BMW vehicles starting 2021

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

A BMW logo over a Berlin showroom (CC BY Mangan 2002, Wikimedia Commons)
A BMW logo over a Berlin showroom (CC BY Mangan 2002, Wikimedia Commons)

Tactile Mobility, a Haifa-based startup that provides smart cars with the ability to “feel the road,” said Tuesday it has signed a deal to provide BMW Group’s next generation of cars globally with its software starting from 2021.

Tactile Mobility develops software that uses an autonomous vehicle’s built-in non-visual sensors, analyzing input such as wheel speed, wheel angle, revolutions per minute, and gear position, to help it “feel” the vehicle-road dynamic — the intersection between the road and the vehicle and the conditions of the road beneath its tires — like human drivers do.

The collaboration with BMW will equip the the German luxury car maker’s vehicles with the ability to analyze the road surface attributes under their tires, to better understand road conditions and better manage the dynamics of the vehicle, Tactile Mobility said on Tuesday. The deal marks one of the first commercial collaborations sighed by the startup for the integration of the firm’s tactile sensing technology.

“We are thrilled to partner with the BMW Group to equip their smart and future automated vehicles with the sense of ‘touch’ and show the commercial viability of tactile sensing technology,” said Boaz Mizrachi, Tactile Mobility’scCo-founder and CTO.

The Tactile Mobility team (Alex Pergament)

The long-term cooperation between the BMW Group and Tactile Mobility began through the BMW Startup Garage, the venture unit of the BMW Group.

The Tactile Mobility team has been working for years to get to the point where the software can be commercially integrated into vehicles, said Rani Plaut, executive board member of Tactile Mobility. The results of this effort will now be implemented in BMW Group’s fleet of vehicles, he said.

In 2019, Tactile announced an investment from Porsche and Union Tech Ventures, the technology investment arm of the Union Group, to help it develop its tactile virtual sensing technology. In May, Tactile announced a collaboration with German sports car manufacturer Porsche to equip its cars with the company’s software and have the technology tested.

Tactile Mobility was co-founded in 2012 by Mizrachi, Yossi Shiri and Alex Ackerman. The company is already working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), road authorities, and municipalities and has offices in Europe, the US, and Asia.

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