May 1, 2017

Verizon Ventures Bets on AMoD to Drive the Future of Urban Transportation with Investment in Renovo

Getting your first set of wheels used to be a teen rite of passage; however today, young people don't feel the need to even get a driver’s license. For many, the costs and hassle associated with owning a car don’t add upbecause taking taxis or using a ride-sharing service instead is much simpler. The tectonic shift toward ride-sharing and automation is the impetus behind our investment in Renovo, whose automotive technology platform merges software, data analytics, and safety systems into a unified solution for Automated Mobility on Demand (AMoD) fleets.

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AMoD is a blanket term that refers to fleets of self-driving vehicles moving people or goods from point-to-point. In its first deployments, AMoD will be “a ride-sharing service without drivers” and eventually extend into fleets of autonomous delivery trucks. Renovo builds technology that merges software, data analytics, and automotive-grade safety systems into a unified solution for Automated Mobility on Demand (AMoD) deployments. Renovo's safe, secure, and scalable platform is capable of processing multiple terabytes of data—each hour—in even the most demanding conditions. Its mission is to drive the expansion of AMoD to the greatest scale and highest efficiency by deploying its technology across vehicles, fleets, and the cloud. While makers of planned autonomous vehicles are building such systems for their own cars, and other companies are rumored to also be doing research in these areas, Renovo’s technology is OEM-agnostic, enabling manufacturers to build autonomous electric vehicles, and AMoD fleets, cost effectively with a scalable software developer framework.

The race for autonomous vehicles is well underway, but in order to avoid software fragmentation and achieve scalable software development, OEMs will need a neutral technology platform that will work across many models—and Renovo provides exactly that. The company’s software is a thin but important layer sitting above a vehicle’s array of sensors and actuators that normalizes and orchestrates the data from critical new systems (electric powertrains, autonomous sensing & controls, connected computing, etc.), greatly simplifying, standardizing and reducing the cost of development of AMoD systems. This will be particularly useful to companies making or managing fleets of electric cars designed to make short point-to-point journeys. Electric AMoD will soon be the preferred transportation in urban areas, where 80% of the US population lives. It will be low cost—less than $0.5/mile—due to high asset utilization and the absence of human driver costs. Electric AMoD technology is nearly commercially ready today, but it will likely be 3 or more years before electric AMoD fleets are operational in US cities, largely due to regulatory and municipality readiness. Once municipalities pass laws for self-driving vehicles and critical infrastructure is in place, AMoD growth will be well positioned to take off rapidly. By 2030, 25% of miles driven in the US could be handled by self-driving cars, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group.

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Individual car ownership is also an outdated, inefficient model. Most cars are idle 96% of the time, costing owners even when they’re just sitting there. According to an analysis by AAA, the average midsize car driven 11,500 miles/year financed over five years costs about $0.8/mile (includes parking, fuel at $2.5/gal, mileage and time depreciation, maintenance, financing, insurance, license, and registration). Driving is also a hassle. Poorly maintained roads, limited parking, and “peak traffic” in many cities makes driving stressful and time-consuming.

Verizon Ventures believes the future of driving will be autonomous and shared. That’s why we have invested in, and are partnering with, companies such as Renovo, as well as Veniam, a leading vehicular mesh company. With the acquisitions of Fleetmatics and Telogis, Verizon owns roughly 25 percent of the telematics market (source: C.J. Driscoll & Associates) and is emerging as a major player in this space. (Telematics encompasses telecommunications, vehicular, road safety, and fleet management software.) By 2025, $26.4 billion of truck freight movement revenues will be enabled by mobile brokering (source: Frost & Sullivan). These numbers validate Verizon’s focus on advancing the mobility space and our work here has just begun. We will continue to keep our finger on the pulse of future technologies and market trends and continue to partner with innovative companies to drive the transportation sector forward.

As we look out 10 to 15 years from now, vehicles will increasingly be driverless and rely heavily on new connectivity paradigms, safe and secure data orchestration, and fleet management software. Investing in Renovo is a critical first step in helping build telematics and fleet management capabilities for the coming generation of AMoD fleets. In the future, getting a driver's’ license may become something that people do as a novelty, and with autonomous fleets ferrying people and goods from place to place; few people will need, or perhaps desire, to drive. Fewer people behind the wheel is good for the planetslashing emissions, saving lives, and reducing congestion. But it will also benefit individuals who will no longer waste hours of their day sitting in traffic, paying hundreds of dollars a month for vehicles that mostly sit idle. AMoD is coming and we can’t wait.

Tags: IoT , Investment , on-demand economy , Renovo , autonomous cars