R&D Magazine Recognizes NanoSteel with Detroit and Silicon Valley Car Companies

  • July 11, 2017

  • How Traditional Car Companies are Keeping Up With Silicon Valley, by Ryan Bushey

     

    Flying cars.

    Robotic taxis.

    Sophisticated sensor networks that can create high-definition radar images or test blood alcohol levels.

    These are some of the futuristic vehicle advancements startups like Uber, Lyft, and Waymo are working on that could redefine the future of transportation.

    Novel technologies like this have drawn significant interest from venture capital firms, with financing hittingover $1 billion in 2016, according to an analysis from CB Insights, a company that tracks venture capital investment.

    Last year $1049 million was invested across 87 funding deals in the automotive technology space, per the data compiled by CB Insights. Those numbers represented a 30 percent rise in annual deal activity compared to the prior year, while R&D funding also increased by 91 percent, hitting record highs.

    But it’s not just startups that are getting involved in these high-tech automotive advancements.

    Major automotive manufacturers like General Motors (GM) and Ford played a big role in this investment surge, searching for deals and partnerships in various emerging research fields revolving around mapping systems, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing technology, and materials science research.

    R&D Magazine rounded up a few ways traditional automakers are keeping up with Silicon Valley technology startups.

    GM

    GM—one of Detroit’s Big Three automotive manufacturers— has been particularly active in pursuing deals with automotive technology startups within the self-driving car space.

    GM bought Cruise Automation last year in a deal potentially worth over $1 billion, reported Fortune. The San, Francisco-based startup is a technology firm working on self-driving car software that could be incorporated into existing vehicles.

    The acquisition brought Cruise’s, “deep software talent and rapid development capability to further accelerate GM’s development of autonomous vehicle technology,” according to an announcement from GM.

    Currently, Cruise’s proprietary technology is being tested in a series self-driving Chevy Bolt test vehicles that are also electrically powered. The fleet of cars are being tested in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona, and the metropolitan Detroit area.

    GM’s venture capital arm has also funneled money into startups like Sirrus Chemistry and The Nanosteel Company, which operate in the advance materials space.

    Sirrus is developing a manufacturing platform of reactive monomers that include a variety of coating, adhesives, sealants, inks and other products that could give certain cars advantages like enhanced “on demand” curing. This could reduce energy consumption and costs.

    The NanoSteel Company is working on similar products. Proceeds from a recent investment round will be geared towards commercialization of the firm’s advanced high strength sheet steel for automotive light weighting applications, according to an announcement in February.

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