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Porsche invests in Israeli start-up Tactile Mobility; integration of tactile data into production cars

Porsche is intensifying its collaboration with Israeli technology company Tactile Mobility with a minority investment. The Haifa-based company is one of the leaders in the field of “tactile data” and is based in Haifa. In addition to Porsche, Union Tech Ventures and existing investors are participating in the current investment round.

Tactile Mobility plans to use the funds primarily to strengthen its development as well as sales activities and promote the collaboration with other automotive manufacturers, mobility service providers as well as municipalities and road authorities in the US, Europe and Asia.

Tactile data simulates a sense of touch. In this process, an algorithm processes data that is provided by different physical sensors which are already available.

Specifically, a tactile software processor resides on one of a vehicle’s computers (ECUs). This embedded module runs proprietary algorithms and AI to generate real-time actionable insights about the vehicle-road dynamics based on raw data ingested from multiple, existing, non-visual sensors. It can also work on an aftermarket device connected to the vehicle CANBus/OBD.

Datasets from each vehicle are uploaded to the cloud and continuously crunched, using big data methodologies and machine learning. These analyses generate and continuously update two mathematical models, describing the critical factors that impact vehicle-road dynamics: VehicleDNA and SurfaceDNA.

  • VehicleDNA represents the unique attributes of each vehicle’s engine efficiency, braking efficiency, tire health, weight, fuel consumption, and more. Data is downloaded back to each relevant vehicle, ensuring that the embedded software has the most updated and accurate context available, for improved ongoing calculations and performance. It is also commercialized with customers such as Fleet Managers and Operators.

  • SurfaceDNA models road features, such as grades, banking, curvature, normalized grip levels, and location of hazards such as bumps, cracks, and potholes. Data is downloaded to vehicles roaming the specific area, enabling them to prime the embedded software with insight on the road ahead, improving safety and user experience reaction time. This model is also specifically valuable for third-parties such as mapping companies, road authorities, municipalities, fleet managers and owners, OEMs, and insurers.

Tactile Mobility’s method helps us collect additional information about the condition of vehicles and roads that goes beyond the information that can be obtained with conventional sensor systems.

—Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche

An integration into series production cars is planned for the beginning of the next decade. Among other use cases, tactile data can further improve the assessment of the friction coefficient between tires and the road surface while a vehicle is moving. Additional potential for the use of the technology also lies in applications for the predictive servicing and optimization of the battery management.

In a further development stage, Tactile Mobility’s software can provide data on the vehicle’s condition itself—e.g., engine and brake efficiency as well as fuel consumption. Consequently, it is possible to draw conclusions on different vehicle components’ state-of-wear.

In this process, the potential applications of tactile data and sensing go beyond individual vehicles as information is analyzed in a backend system. Based on this information, the software is able to determine road conditions and quickly identify a change in road surface conditions in order to prepare additional vehicles in the fleet network for such changes—e.g., in the event of a slippery road surface.

The generation and analysis of tactile data is not only interesting for automotive manufacturers like Porsche. Municipalities, as well as road authorities can also benefit from this technology by documenting the individual properties of the road. For example, collected data could help in the planning of road maintenance work or the deployment of salting and snow removal services with maximum efficiency.


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