Porsche revs up driverless car efforts with TriEye investment

By Lucy Ingham

Porsche is stepping up its involvement in the driverless car space with a strategic investment in Israeli startup TriEye.

The company, which was founded in 2017, has created a short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensor technology that is designed to improve vehicles’ ability to ‘see’ their surroundings in poor visibility conditions, such as fog, dust or rain.

While other SWIR cameras exist, TriEye is in the process of patenting a solution that promises to be significantly cheaper than current options.

The investment sees Porsche take a minority stake in the startup as part of a Series A financing found, which was led by Intel Capital and also backed by venture capital fund Grove Ventures.

Porsche TriEye investment adds to nuanced driverless car plans

While many companies are developing driverless cars with a view to them becoming a full replacement for current vehicles, Porsche has taken a more nuanced approach due to its driving-loving customer base.

The company has made a number of investments in the driverless car space, but it is adamant that the technology will not spell the end for human drivers.

“We still believe at Porsche that personal car ownership is going to play an important role in the future,’’ Stephan Baral, from Porsche software unit Porsche Digital, told Xconomy.

In pursuit of this approach, the company has largely focused on driverless car technologies that eliminate friction points but do not replace the entire driving experience.

This includes cars that can drive themselves into the workshop for maintenance, in a project with Berlin startup Kopernikus Automotive.

Today’s announcement appears to continue this theme, by providing a technology that can make the driving experience safer for drivers without removing them from the equation entirely.

“TriEye is a promising technology company led by an exceptionally strong team with experience in the areas of nano-photonics, deep learning and the development of semi-conductor components,” said Michael Steiner, member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche.

“We see great potential in this sensor technology that paves the way for the next generation of driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. SWIR can be a key element: it offers enhanced safety at a competitive price.”

“Our mission is to save lives and reduce risks of accidents in all weather and lighting conditions”, added Avi Bakal, CEO and co-founder of TriEye.

“The expansion of our Series A round and the addition of Porsche as a strategic investor is another proof that SWIR is a critical component in the necessary sensor fusion solution to enable safer and better advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles.”

Read more: Maximising safety through innovation”: How the UK is tackling driverless car regulation