At the core of a self-driving vehicle is an autonomous system that enables it to “see” its surroundings. Connected to a suite of powerful sensors like radar and LIDAR, as well as multiple cameras placed in key spots in a vehicle, an autonomous system is able to process enough information for it to make “smart” decisions on the roads.
For Dubai startup and MIT-spinoff company Derq, a key element is improving how driverless cars communicate with each other and with road infrastructure. This is the driving force behind the application layer Derq has developed and patented, and they’ve already raised a $1.5 million in seed funding from MIT’s Techstars Mobility Accelerator. Their goal is to make roads safer using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle communication.
“The technology uses artificial intelligence coupled with connected vehicle technology to prevent car accidents,” Derq CEO and MIT alumnus Georges Aoude told UAE daily The National. With the funds raised thus far, the company plans to grow their team in Dubai and continue working on their application. They will even open a U.S. office in Detroit.
Autonomous vehicles promise a future where roads are safer and the number one cause of road accidents, human error, is eliminated. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.25 million people all over the world lose their lives from car crashes every year — an average of 3,400 deaths every day — and 40,000 of these happen in the U.S.
Now, perfecting self-driving vehicles doesn’t just depend on autonomous systems. A lot of work needs to be done to prepare infrastructure for a driverless future. Derq’s application sits in between these developments, enabling self-driving cars to effectively predict incidents and notify nearby drivers. In short, it provides an added layer of safety.
With Dubai quickly becoming the leading city for testing and implementing autonomous driving technologies, Derq has positioned itself quite advantageously. “Dubai is at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies that focus on improving road safety and autonomous vehicle deployments,” Aoude said in a press release.