Believe it or not, innovative mobility technologies are not all developed in Silicon Valley, China and Israel’s Silicon Wadi.

France has a community of startups that rival the world’s best in autonomous and connected-vehicle tech. For six years, the country’s best-of-the-best new companies have gone on a 2-week whirlwind tour of the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and Silicon Valley where they pitch dozens of automakers, suppliers and influencers.

The visits are part of UbiMobility, a 9-month development program combined with the 2-week immersion in key automotive and tech ecosystems in the U.S.

Alumni of this exclusive club include autonomous-shuttle company Navya, automotive handwriting recognition expert MyScript and car-sharing expert VULOG.

NAVYA provides 100% driverless and electric transport solutions for shuttle fleets. It has transported 11,000 passengers almost 5,000 miles (8,000 km).

MyScript is the market pioneer and leader in the field of automotive handwriting recognition with more than 10 million cars equipped with its technology. 

Vulog is a market leader in car-sharing technology and has designed a turnkey vehicle-agnostic solution with front-end, back-end and on-board hardware aimed at mobility operators. It currently supplies technology to the two largest independent free-floating operators in North America.

The tour normally takes place in early June but was delayed by Covid-19.

It now is “on the road” Sept. 8-18 as a well-choreographed virtual tour where each company executive delivers a concise 5-minute video presentation.

This year’s seven presenters were selected from a group of highly vetted finalists by jurors from Magna International, FCA Group, Ford Motor Co., Aptiv, the University of Michigan, NVIDIA, Boston Consulting Group, Qualcomm, Valeo North America and Wards Intelligence.

Now in its sixth year, UbiMobility was developed by two French economic development organizations, Business France and Bpifrance. Business France is a government agency supporting the international development of the French economy, and Bpifrance is a public investment bank that helps finance entrepreneurs.

The finalists making their pitches to OEMs and suppliers offer a wide variety of creative and relevant mobility technologies:

Heex Technologies https://www.heex.io offers a software solution that speeds autonomous-vehicle development by simplifying the lives of AV development teams.

Self-driving car-test fleets generate enormous amounts of data that engineers, and data scientists struggle to access, organize and identify insights in the captured data. It can take weeks for important information needed by data scientists to be identified and made available. Heex’s software solution enables teams to focus on the 1% of the data that is important, which saves time, money and ultimately improves their artificial intelligence.

The Heex software does this by extracting the data that is being reported in important situations by selected sensors; requests events writing and validation on a permissioned blockchain; packages small sensors and events data, sends it securely to the cloud; and then pushes the data to development teams, other vehicles and authorized third parties.

iXblue https://www.ixblue.com/ With iXblue’s inertial navigation solutions, vehicles can be positioned and oriented without any outside connection, whatever its location. 

Autonomous vehicles should know where they are 100% of the time, but GPS navigation systems can be incapacitated by tunnels and radar and lidar can be blinded by weather and other conditions. iXblue says it has the answer: FOG (Fiber-Optic Gyroscope) technology. It is a pioneer and recognized market leader in this technology and it already develops high-performance inertial navigation systems that guide satellites and submarines.

Kipsum https://www.kipsum.fr/ Kipsum’s intelligent energy device manager can reduce HVAC energy consumption in electric vehicles 20% without sacrificing perceived comfort.

Already used in commercial buildings and public lighting, Kipsum’s product centralizes system data to generate a digital twin. Their algorithms then use AI and optimization methods to minimize the energy consumption associated with comfort and delivering longer-range and better performance for electrified vehicles without impacting customer satisfaction.

Epicnpoc www.epicnpoc.com is a software company dedicated to Innovation and User Experience for automotive, mobility and smart home.

The company’s IO suite is a unique solution to create functional experience setups, specially designed to support the user experience creation process in complex systems such as automotive, mobility, people and goods transportation and Smart Home.

Using a service-oriented architecture-based framework, the Epicnpoc solution enables the connection of diverse ecosystems, including hardware components, graphical user interfaces, mobile devices, cloud services, AI and subsystems to create an interactive environment for the end-users. The software suite can describe unlimited interaction logics between the components and multiple users depending on the simulated or real context.

IRider https://www.irider.ai/ Just in time to take advantage of the boom in urban biking, IRider is a startup that develops intelligent onboard solutions for manufacturers of e-bikes, scooters and motorcycles.

Even though 2-wheeled transportation provides many benefits, CEO Frederic Delahais says it is 35 times more dangerous than 4-wheel vehicles. He says IRider’s MELROSE intelligent rider assistant system is the first AI-powered Edge Computing platform that connects the bike and the rider to everything. He says MELROSE computes, in real time, never-seen amounts of assistance and protection-critical applications such as computer vision and C-V2X, navigation, predictive safety, infotainment, voice, augmented reality and telematics. It also is 5G ready.

Lextan CEO Marc Lambert says its Autopod semi-autonomous EV is the future of last-mile delivery.

The Autopod vehicle is dedicated to the delivery of goods in urban areas and offers a new twist on the idea of using small autonomous vehicles to deliver goods. Its autopilot is able to perform simple maneuvers on its own in a dedicated environment. However, for complex situations where interaction with people is important, a remote operator takes over the controls. In order to create the best interactions with pedestrians, the virtual driver’s visual and audible presence is projected on the vehicle’s windows so he or she can maintain social interactions with people nearby. The strategy enables highly efficient use of professional drivers for fleets of vehicles while preserving good interactions with pedestrians and other road users.

Stampyt https://www.stamp.yt/en aims to take online automotive retailing to new heights with smartphone imagery that can inspire new confidence in buyers, sellers and remarketers purchasing vehicles online. New mobile phone apps enable sellers to photograph and display vehicles with professional-looking 360-degree views and different backgrounds. Coming soon will be AI-assisted smartphone apps that automate the inspection process and automatically detect damaged parts that need to be repaired or replaced. The startup processed 25 million photos in 2019 and more than 2,000 consumer sites in Europe are using the company’s solutions.