Tactile Mobility wants to move beyond sensors that simply help cars look at the road ahead. The Israeli tech company has created software that allows a car to sense the road and react to changes, without relying on visual aids.
- Tactile Mobility is an Israel-based tech firm developing software to aid self-drive cars and autonomous drive systems.
- The company’s two main products are called VehicleDNA and SurfaceDNA.
- Using non-visual sensors, Tactile Mobility’s software monitors everything from speed, brake effort, and each tire’s grip level, to let the car read the road and react to unpredictable conditions.
Self-driving cars are going to need more than a good set of eyes on the road to function properly. This is why Tactile Mobility has developed software to allow a vehicle to read and react to real-time road conditions, all without being solely dependent on cameras, radar systems, or laser scanners typically associated with autonomous driving aids.
Ride recently spoke with Eitan Grosbard, Tactile Mobility’s vice president of business development, about his firm’s technology and what it means to let a car “feel the road,” versus scanning it with visual sensors. Ideally, Tactile Mobility’s two main products, called VehicleDNA and SurfaceDNA, would work in partnership with a vehicle’s visual sensor array, to create the best overall picture of current road conditions.
“There are dozens of non-visual sensors available [in a modern car],” says Grosbard. These include monitors for wheel speed, braking force, suspension travel, tire grip, engine speed/rpm, and much more. “What our technology allows us to do is monitor the dynamics between the vehicle and the road surface.”
Tactile Mobility is creating software that augments visual-based sensor arrays being fitted to more and more vehicles. The goal is to create a picture of real-time road conditions, without being totally dependent on cameras, laser scanners, and radar. (Image: Getty Images)
Grosbard says this allows a vehicle to react and respond to “infrastructural aspects,” such as potholes and cracked pavement, or “weather-related elements,” like rain and black ice. The latter weather condition, he said, is something many visual sensors have an extremely difficult time reading and relaying back to the vehicle. This information is transferred from each vehicle running Tactile Mobility’s software to a cloud-based data center, where it can be relayed immediately to other cars, or even city agencies tasked with monitoring roads and any repairs that might be needed.
Tactile mobility calls this “tactile mapping,” where a car monitors and reports hazards and other anomalies by sensing what’s going on throughout the vehicle and at each wheel. “The technology not only detects [road hazards], but places them in a specific location on a map,” explains Grosbard. This allows other vehicles to react appropriately, and why the collected data could be valuable from a city maintenance perspective, too.
This information has the added benefit of helping car owners with routine maintenance. The sensors used to monitor road conditions can also relay information related to potential tire problems, engine issues, or other mechanical defects that might affect a vehicle’s performance.
Tactile Mobility is working with several major automakers, including Ford and Porsche, to bring this technology to market within 1-2 years. Grosbard told Ride that a European automaker will be the first to introduce its software on a production car in 2021, but he could not disclose the make or model.
WHY THIS MATTERS
More sensors, less problems – at least when it comes to safety and self-driving tech. Tactile Mobility’s software is applicable to all types of cars, self-driving or not, and has a strong safety aspect even when a human remains firmly in control of the vehicle.