The Top Smart Car Technologies Shaping the Future of Driving

Published on Jul. 10, 2024

Self-driving intelligent cars, accident-free vehicles, cars fully powered by clean and renewable energies… when it comes to smart car technologies, the sky’s the limit.

The automotive industry has been a beacon for technological innovation since its inception. Today, more than ever, key players in the smart car field find that staying competitive and relevant increasingly lies in their innovation capabilities. This is also true for aligning with current consumer expectations: in a survey conducted by McKinsey, 69% of consumers demanded more car connectivity services, and 34% were interested in high-automation features.

In this ever-changing environment, one thing is certain: the future of automotive innovation will be shaped by companies able to merge cutting-edge technologies with innovations that are relevant to drivers.

This is precisely where the role of startups in the smart car technologies landscape stands out, helping companies break new ground with confidence and shape the future of driving.

What are Smart Car Technologies

The term smart car technologies refers to a range of advanced systems designed to improve the safety, efficiency, and convenience of vehicles.

As such, through the integration of cutting-edge software and hardware, intelligent car technology is helping companies create a more connected and automated driving experience.

The concept of smart car technologies encompasses a wide range of systems, from Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to Autonomous driving initiatives, connected car technology, battery management systems, and enhanced safety systems, among others.

The Top Startups Shaping the Future of Smart Car Technologies

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The alliance between major car industry companies and startups is playing a key role in shaping what the intelligent vehicles of the present and future look like.

Initiatives such as Startup Autobahn offer evidence of the potential of merging long-established engineering expertise with visionary young tech companies. What’s more, the Startup Stage at EXPO 2024 provided a comprehensive look at the pioneering tech startups helping major companies elevate their innovation capabilities. Along the same line, the SV Summit Mobility Expo represents a true treasure trove showcasing key startup pitches surrounding smart car technologies.

Illustrating the far-reaching innovation efforts within the broad category of smart car technologies today, here’s a brief selection of 12 of these top innovators:

1. About:Energy

About Energy helps companies upgrade their battery technologies by providing battery virtual prototyping. Leveraging rich datasets and its software platform, The Voltt, the goal is to expedite decision-making throughout the battery supply chain.

Already working with 4 of the top luxury automotive brands, About Energy is instrumental in helping companies accelerate time-to-market while ensuring the selection of the best cell for each application.

Check out how our corporate partner, Porsche, is collaborating with About:Energy on car battery modelling:

2. Volpost

Voltpost retrofits lampposts into modular and upgradable electric vehicle charging platforms, providing convenient charging access while reducing the cost, timing, and footprint of chargers.

With installation times of under 1 hour and able to avoid expensive or noisy construction, Volpost is working with multiple industry leaders, determined to democratize charging access as a key effort to decarbonize mobility.

3. Soarchain

At a time when enhanced connectivity, functionality and personalization has become fundamental among smart car technologies, Soarchain empowers automotive manufacturers to make their cars dApp-ready. That is, equipping vehicles so that they can interact with decentralized applications (dApps), which operate on blockchain networks and enable direct peer-to-peer transactions without intermediaries and the benefits it entails.

To do so, the startup helps manufacturers develop their own dApps or collaborate with developers and blockchain startups. All with one goal: to redefine driving with intelligent platforms and value-added services.

4. Waveye

Waveye makes next-level perception available with mmWave radar imaging and AI, in an effort to take imaging radar for autonomous vehicles and robotic applications to the next level.

More specifically, their team of experts helps companies activate lightweight imaging radar (LIR) technology, enhanced with deeply-integrated radar AI, seeking to provide advanced imaging technologies that overcome the limitations of current systems.

Pilot presentation Togg & Wyseye:

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5. mimik

mimik is on a mission to make vehicles smarter, more autonomous, collaborative, leaner, and greener. As such, the startup helps companies adopt a uniform, modern software-defined vehicle architecture that accelerates delivery by offering unmatched scalability, portability, and seamless interoperability for current and future designs.

Through the mimik platform, they provide offline-first capabilities, on-device data processing, analytics, and edge Al via an APl-first microservice architecture. The result is an architecture that allows workloads to seamlessly operate on any computing node, irrespective of hardware, operating system, or connectivity.

6. Dirac

Dirac aims at revolutionizing assembling processes through BuildOS, the first automated work instruction platform. The platform facilitates the draft of assembly work instructions in minutes (instead of weeks or months), based on a CAD file.

Thus, the technology acts as an invaluable ally for engineers, offering a single source of truth for assembly that enables faster time-to-market and innovation with reduced errors and overhead.

7. Peregrine operates within the smart car technologies area that aims at upgrading visual intelligence.

On a mission to make smart cameras smarter, their innovation targets and sources data for enhanced AI-powered vision, delivering unparalleled contextual awareness in mobility that transcends conventional object detection and enables any dash cam to understand what’s happening in traffic.

An Essential Guide to Corporate Innovation

A transformative breakthrough in perception systems powering millions of cameras around the world, their ultimate goal is to promote a safer and more sustainable mobility ecosystem.

This is how our corporate partner, Porsche, is collaborating with to implement smart car technologies:

8. Invert robotics

Enabling safe working conditions and asset integrity is yet another inspiring area within smart car technologies. This is precisely the area of expertise of Invert Robotics, which offers robotic, data-driven Non-Destructive Testing inspection technology.

Safe and accurate inspections are a key piece in the intricate puzzle of automobile innovation. Invert Robotics’s solution provides accurate asset inspections while eliminating the risks of human entry into confined spaces through their modular, multi-technology and non-destructive tools.

Check out how DXC Technology and Invert Robotics are transforming welding quality inspection in their joint pilot project.

9. Hedro

Hedro Smart Sensors retrofits industrial machines and connects them to the Internet of Things. As such, they enable the digitalization of existing industrial facilities, thus effectively opening the door for companies to join Industry 4.0, all without the need to acquire new equipment.

Hedro thus facilitates access to breakthrough technologies and innovation that truly make a difference, including predictive maintenance, quality control and production monitoring, among other applications.

Check out the pilot project of Mercedes-Benz AG & Hedro:

10. NoTraffic

The IoT mobility platform developed by NoTrafficoptimizes traffic flow in real-time by leveraging data analytics via edge computing and AI-driven mobility management solutions.

The outcome is a system that supports the future of mobility through improved road safety, enhanced mobility efficiency and the intelligence for reduced emissions.

Pilot presentation DXC Technology & NoTraffic:

11. Zendar

As part of the initiatives to make autonomous drive safe and accessible, Zendar is accelerating ADAS performance through cutting-edge technology that offers increased radar resolution.

By enabling large radar apertures with small, inexpensive hardware components, the startup has cracked the code for enhanced object detection and tracking, long-range velocity information, and reliability in all weather and lighting conditions.

Pilot presentation NXP Semiconductors & Zendar:

12. Ventus

Ventus Technologies uses advanced road weather models to enhance range forecast for EVs and autonomous driving. The technology understands the key role of environmental conditions for reliable road trip planning.

As such, they provide high-precision data about environmental conditions, helping car makers and fleet operators integrate these into existing range and consumption estimation systems.

What is the Future of Automobile Innovation?

A survey conducted in late 2023 by McKinsey we’ve cited above mentions how the majority of automotive innovation investment initiatives have so far been focused on electrification and autonomous vehicles.

However, as highlighted across the article, these two broad categories can only point to the myriad of intricate developments and innovation efforts that are actually involved in shaping smart car technologies today. A look at the numerous startups taking automotive innovation to the next level also demonstrates this.

In this context, the potential of creating synergies between young emerging tech companies with established companies within the mobility industry is evident.

These synergy-based models are precisely the foundations for the Open Innovation model, which promotes a collaborative approach for innovation that advances technologies through both internal and external ideas, all while allowing companies to innovate with confidence.

In an industry where a profound transformation of the value chain is taking place to facilitate advanced smart car technologies, the motto “no man is an island” is more on point than ever.

This is precisely where the building of synergies facilitated by open innovation can open the door to mobility initiatives that are both revolutionary and grounded on technological expertise and innovation professionals.

Looking to join the key accelerators defining the future of automotive innovation and smart car technologies? At Plug and Play, we are experts in open innovation and are committed to facilitating it through our successful methodology for innovation, implemented in +100 programs around the world.

Our Mobility program brings together leading automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers with forward-thinking startups to define the future of the automotive industry. Through this platform, we work with over 150 stage agnostic startups every year focusing on autonomous vehicles, connectivity, shared economy, electrification, and industry 4.0.

Want to learn more? Reach out to our innovation experts and find out how to join the future of smart car technologies today.