Startup nations | Israel in the front seat of technology for self-driving cars

The way consumers and technology interact is shifting into high gear thanks to autonomous, self-driving cars.

The Obama administration’s proposed budget for 2017 includes $4 billion over the next 10 years for pilot projects and testing programs, according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Meanwhile, California and Michigan both want to host a national self-driving car testing facility in World War II military sites, according to Bloomberg Business. A decommissioned Navy base in Concord is California’s choice for the site, Bloomberg reported, which is needed to test each new car’s ability to communicate with other cars.

Google and Tesla are at the front of the pack, but many other players have an eye on a driverless future — from Apple to Uber to Baidu. “The Chinese Google,” according to Wired, Baidu announced in December that its self-driving car had successfully navigated a complicated 18.6-mile route through Beijing that included side streets, highways and U-turns.

Of course, for autonomous cars to drive themselves and connect with each other, they must rely on the Internet and various connections such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This, in turn, opens the door for automotive cyberhacking, which experts site as a serious risk, with hackers around the world eagerly awaiting their chances to crack into the domain of driverless cars.

That’s where Israeli high-tech companies step in.

But it’s more than just providing the technology to prevent cyberattacks on the road. When it comes to self-driving cars, Israel is ready to play a major role — as evidenced by an event held March 9-11 in the Bay Area.

For the third straight year, the Israeli Economic Mission to the West Coast hosted the Connected Car Delegation. Fourteen Israeli companies visited San Francisco and Silicon Valley to showcase their technology to the world’s leading car and car equipment manufacturers.

Here are just a few of the companies that were part of the delegation, with descriptions taken from the companies’ websites:

Argus Cyber Security. With research-and-development offices based in Tel Aviv, Argus is a pioneer in automotive cybersecurity, helping car manufacturers, their suppliers and aftermarket connectivity providers protect connected cars and commercial vehicles from hacking. Led by a team of cybersecurity experts and auto industry veterans, Argus’ solutions combine innovative security methods and proven computer networking know-how with an understanding of automotive best practices. Argus’ security technology promotes car connectivity without compromising a vehicle’s safety and security.

 BrightWay Vision. Based in Haifa, BrightWay is developing a groundbreaking vision technology that detects objects, day and night, farther than the human eye can see. BrightWay is pioneering a night-vision technology that generates a detailed and intuitive image of road scenery, enabling human-size target detection at a range of up to 273 yards. The all-in-one BrightWay platform also integrates a lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and collision avoidance.

Jungo Connectivity. With offices in Japan, South Korea, China and Silicon Valley, Netanya-based Jungo is a leader in multimedia and connectivity for in-vehicle infotainment systems, powering millions of new cars annually. This year, Jungo is launching a revolutionary computer vision embedded software product focused on in-car driver monitoring and interaction, with features including gaze recognition and distraction alert, driver drowsiness detection, head position identification, driver recognition and hand gesture recognition and control.


Startup of the month

Minerva Labs, which has developed technology to prevent targeted cyberattacks without the need to detect them first, was named the most innovative startup in Israeli cybersecurity at the 2016 Israeli CyberTech conference held in January. A month later, the firm won first place in an innovation contest at the 2016 Cyber Security Bootcamp in Berlin.

Minerva’s patent-pending technology creates an environment in which malware refrains from executing. That will give enterprises peace of mind and confidence that a targeted cyberattack will be neutralized before any damage has been done.