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Nokia Bets $100 Million on Smart Car Tech

No longer selling smartphones, Nokia's gets dialed into supporting smart car startups

1 min read
Nokia Bets $100 Million on Smart Car Tech
A visitor tests a Nokia Oyj map application operated by the company's Here unit on Monday, 24 Feb., the opening day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nokia launched a US $100 million venture fund today to invest in companies working on connected car technology. Nokia, which sold its mobile phone unit to Microsoft last week, is already a major presence in the car navigation sector. It provides four out of five car navigation systems, reports Bloomberg. Nokia's investment arm, Nokia Growth Partners, already manages other early-stage technology companies with a combined value of around US $600 million, according to the company's press release.

Connected cars is a catch-all industry term for cars that connect to the Internet. Some do it through their own hardware, while others allow their cars to interact with driver or passenger devices via Bluetooth or cables. Google and Apple, the biggest mobile software makers, both have car software or hardware offerings, reports the BBC.

The next step will be for cars to talk not just to the Internet, but to nearby cars for improved coordination. Cars can already combine multiple sources of sensor data to detect and respond to traffic conditions, for example (See "Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic-Jam Assistants," part of this month's IEEE Spectrum special report on self-driving cars). Passing such information to nearby cars, called Vehicle-to-Vehicle or V2V technology, could help prevent accidents or improve the flow of traffic. U.S. regulators will soon announce draft rules for that kind of technology.

Car manufacturers and third-party suppliers are both competing and cooperating to establish those standards. That will enable them all to move forward, and faster, to feed consumers' appetite for data in their cars. "Vehicles are becoming a new platform for technology adoption very similar to phones or tablets," said Paul Asel, a partner at Nokia Growth Partners, in Nokia's statement.


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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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