J.P. Morgan, Qualcomm lead $100 million investment in startup replacing shock absorbers with ‘digital chassis’
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ClearMotion (screenshot)

This startup is betting that by focusing on the smoothness of the ride, it can defeat competition in constructing the skeletons of self-driving cars

Boston-based MIT spinout company ClearMotion has raised a colossal $100 million funding round from the likes of Qualcomm Ventures for technology that would bring the “digital chassis” and computerized actuators to life.

The company’s press release puts an emphasis on shock absorption, claiming cars will be able “to interpret and react to road conditions in real time.” That enables a smoother ride, which in turn would seemingly make its technology the more desireable option should more competitors emerge.

“Innovation in the car business is ramping dramatically, and we see an opportunity to make our mark upon it,” said company Co-Founder and CEO Shakeel Avadhany in a very brief press release. “Self-driving functionality mandates a future in which cars afford not just driving pleasure, but the utility of a mobile office.”

There is clearly growing competition in the autonomous automotive market (or as this author prefers to dub them, “auto autos”). Every aspect of the car is being digitized. A smoother ride would definitely be a demand going forward for private owners and a major selling point for theoretical full-service offerings (think Cars-as-a-Service) the likes of Uber, Lyft or the major manufacturers might sell (I can definitely see that for autonomous buses).

The money will certainly go toward expanding the startup’s staff — they are advertising 12 open jobs on their website, including mechatronics, electrical engineers, and embedded software engineers. They also plan to open another office in San Francisco, likely for the purpose of collaborating with local startups and being close to their investors.

“We are focused about the quality of time in autos and how we transform it by digitizing our relationship to the road, allowing software to control the dynamics of the car,” Avadhany continued. “We are excited to work with leading automakers and Tier-1 suppliers in making this a reality.”

ClearMotion is developing a quote-unquote digital chassis (courtesy)

The company only mentions better anticipatory technology guiding prospective vehicles’ shock absorption, nothing in regards to the possible use of unique material composition or design in making that happen.

Avadhany founded the company alongside Zackary Anderson, who has interned at Google as a platforms engineer and co-founded open-source impact startup Sana back in the lte 2000s.

Investors included New Enterprise Associates (NEA), World Innovation Lab (WiL), and Eileses Capital.

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