Drivent emerges from stealth with products for autonomous vehicle safety

Drivent logo

Drivent LLC today announced that it is certified to test autonomous vehicles in Washington state and described its approach to technologies to encourage adoption of self-driving cars. The Bellevue, Wash.-based startup had been in stealth mode for three years.

“While searching for an opportunity to make a difference, we learned that more than 37,000 people are killed by car accidents each year in just the United States,” stated Wes Schwie, co-founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based Drivent. “We also learned that around 94% of car accidents are caused by human errors that could be eliminated by self-driving vehicles. The opportunity to save lives by promoting the adoption of self-driving vehicles was exhilarating.”

“Years ago, we realized that encouraging widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles would require more than just making cars that don’t crash,” said Eric Wengreen, co-founder of Drivent. “While the autonomous industry focused on collision-avoidance technology, we focused on developing technology to overcome the non-collision barriers to adoption of autonomous vehicles.”

Drivent holds 11 patents. Its technologies are designed to detect fires in autonomous vehicles and automatically pull them over; communicate with a call center to assist the police, tow-truck operators, or other people as needed; and improve the user experience.

The company has joined NVIDIA, Torc Robotics, Waymo, and others on the list of companies approved to test autonomous vehicle technologies in the state of Washington.

“Many of Drivent’s solutions will have the greatest impact not as stand-alone systems, but rather as elements integrated into the products and services of much larger players in the autonomous vehicle market,” said Schwie.

Drivent responded to the following questions from The Robot Report:

Is the rate of vehicle fires for self-driving cars comparable or likely to be similar to that of conventional vehicles?

Right now, U.S. fire departments respond to about 168,000 vehicle fires per year. Self-driving cars can use internal combustion engines or electric motors. Cars switching to electric motors could reduce this number, but with the recent battery-related fires in electronic devices such as phones and laptops, whether the number of fires will go up or down is unclear.

How will the vehicle communicate with the proper authorities if it’s on fire?

Our technologies include proprietary systems that detect an indication of a fire and automatically take steps to ensure the safety of the passengers. One of these steps is alerting emergency personnel via cellular communication.

Could Drivent’s systems be used with vehicles still driven by humans — as a driver-assist or additional safety measure?

Some of Drivent’s systems could absolutely be used in human-driven cars and would add another layer of safety to cars on the roads today. However, our technologies mainly focus on SAE Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles.

Police pull over 50,000 drivers a day. Could some of Drivent’s systems be helpful for dealing with drunk drivers/passengers?

Great question! We have actually been developing a suite of impaired driving detection products.

Our mission is to take as much human error out of the driving equation as possible, and drunk driving is a devastating reality. We hope our impaired driving suite will be integrated into vehicles in the near future and be available in every car on the road.

When will Drivent’s technology be available?

We hope that Drivent’s technologies will be available within the next year. These are not direct-to-consumer products; our offerings are something that big players in this space — like Waymo, Ford, and NVIDIA — will ideally integrate into their existing platforms.

We never want our technologies to only be available to those that can afford buying an additional suite of products. Safety is a basic human right, and everyone should have access to what we have developed. Our goal is for these safety and lifestyle technologies to be available in every self-driving car on the road.