Hyundai invests in Israeli startup Autotalks to boost car connectivity prowess

Industry source estimates the investment at a few million dollars; it will be basis of strategic partnership

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

The Autotalks team; July 2018 (Daniel Danilov)
The Autotalks team; July 2018 (Daniel Danilov)

South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company is investing an undisclosed amount of money in Israeli startup Autotalks, a maker of vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems for use in autonomous driving cars.

An industry source estimated the investment at a few million dollars.

The investment will be the basis of a strategic partnership between Hyundai and Autotalks, to speed up the development and deployment of next-generation sensor chips for connected cars, the companies said in a statement.

Hyundai is expanding partnerships in the connectivity field to further strengthen connectivity technology that is vital to autonomous driving and to explore new business opportunities within smart city infrastructure, the statement said.

Illustrative photo of an overturned vehicle (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

The V2X technology developed by Autotalks allows vehicles to communicate with one another, with other road users and road infrastructure, with the aim of increasing road safety and mobility. The sensors work in all environments and weather conditions, and help prevent road collisions and avoid dangerous situations, the statement said.

In manned vehicles, V2X systems provide the driver with alerts and notifications and can also take over operation of the vehicle in dangerous situations. In autonomous vehicles, V2X complements existing sensors, allowing them to make more informed decisions as well as easing their interaction with other road users.

“Connectivity is one of the core technologies that can be applied to smart city business models, as well as autonomous driving and infotainment,” said Yunseong Hwang, director of open innovation business group at Hyundai Motor, in the statement. “Hyundai will continue to invest in disruptive technologies that are in line with Hyundai’s current and future strategic pillars.”

Hagai Zyss, CEO of Israel’s Autotalks, September 2016 (Courtesy)

Autotalks, which was founded in 2008 and is based in Kfar Netter, a small community in central Israel, is already selling its V2V products to original car equipment manufacturers and Tier-1 and Tier-2 customers. The Israeli startup has raised to date more than $80 million in four funding rounds.

Last year the company teamed up with Taiwan’s RoyalTek, a maker of global positioning systems (GPS) and satellite navigation technology, to develop a new vehicle-to-pedestrian product in which cars equipped with Autotalks’ V2X semiconductor chips will be able to “talk” to pedestrians who use RoyalTek’s OMEN device.

“Having a top global car manufacturer such as Hyundai invest directly in Autotalks is not only a vote of confidence in the company, but a testament to the growing V2X market,” said Hagai Zyss, CEO of Autotalks. He said Hyundai’s pursuit of cutting-edge communication and safety technologies is a “perfect match” for Autotalks’ capabilities. The funding from Hyundai will help boost development of Autotalks’ technologies further and help support customers and partners globally, he said.

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