Toyota has invested in Nauto, a Palo Alto-based company that has developed a distracted driving system for commercial fleets that monitors drivers and the road environment to increase safe driving.
Nauto is one of three technology companies that received funding from the Toyota Research Institite, which has launched Toyota AI Ventures to accellerate development of artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous mobility, data, and cloud-based technology.
Toyota's initial investment of $100 million also went to London-based Slamcore and Intuition Robotics, an Israeli company that has developed AI robots for the elderly. Slamcore develops advanced algorithms for technology platforms such as autonomous cars, drones, and AR/VR systems to build a map of their surroundings and position themselves within it.
Toyota's investment in Nauto came in August of 2016, when the institute participated in a $12 million round of Series A financing.
Fleets in 23 U.S. cities have begun testing Nauto's device, including City Wide Taxi in San Francisco, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Nauto offers a device packed with AI-powered sensors that's mounted inside a vehicle's windshield that collects data from inside and outside of the vehicle to prevent collisions, improve driver behavior, and learn from the data shared across its cloud network.
The two-directional camera monitors the vehicle's cabin and the road ahead. The system provides driver identification, scoring and evaluation, a live map with the location of fleet vehicles, as well as a custom video request and mark button.
Nauto's device is equipped with GPS, LTE and wireless connections, LEDs, a wide-angle interior camera, and night vision support.
About 68% of collisions in commercial fleets are the result of distracted driving, and one in four of those are the result of cell phone use. Collisions usually cost fleets between $4,000 and $8,000 per vehicle, according to Nauto.