There is no end in sight to a yearslong debate over the method of communication that automakers might someday use to alert motorists of potential hazards on the road.
While the auto industry and federal government have been preoccupied and paralyzed by arguments over whether dedicated short-range communications or cellular are the better means to send those messages, Israeli startup firm Waycare is concerning itself with the messages themselves.
"Everyone is focused on how we communicate, and very few are looking at what we communicate," said Noam Maital, CEO of the company, which uses its connected mobility platform to synthesize real-time information from public-sector traffic management centers, private partners such as Waze and vehicles themselves.
"I was asked a question about whether it'd be DSRC or cellular, and I said, 'I don't understand the question,' " he said. "America is the land of options. You have 17 salad dressings at the grocery store. It might be that it's both, and maybe it's a third option that interoperates with everything."
Waycare, founded in 2016, aims to be one of those options. Its initial pilot projects are showing present-day results in helping transportation departments analyze real-time and near real-time traffic information to help motorists avert crashes. In Las Vegas, a partnership between the city's regional traffic center and the company resulted in a 17 percent reduction in primary crashes on a portion of the Interstate 15 corridor.
Now the company is expanding its efforts. Similar projects with the Florida Department of Transportation and Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus are underway. A $7.5 million Series A funding round completed last week is expected to drive expansion into five to 10 more U.S. states by the end of 2020, according to Maital. Cities in Israel and Europe also are slated to use Waycare's software, starting next year.
At a time when self-driving vehicles are often perceived as the most substantial long-term means to curtail the 40,000 or so deaths that occur every year on American roads, Waycare — one of the standouts at the EcoMotion conference in Tel Aviv in June — offers evidence that plenty can be done in the meantime to reduce the carnage until that far-off future arrives.