Ford to partner with three autonomous car startups

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it will partner with three startups with technology products for autonomous and connected cars.

The Dearborn automaker has entered into collaborations with three companies from the second annual class of Techstars Mobility, a startup incubator backed by Ford and other partners.

The companies — Spatial, HAAS Alert and Cargo — are all from out of state, but spent the past three months working and learning in Detroit through the Techstars program. Each company received $120,000 in funding as well as guidance from experts as they continued to build their operations.

Spatial is a Cincinnati-based company that provides an embedded “layer of social intelligence” for GPS maps that highlights areas that are good for specific activities like eating and nightlife. HAAS Alert is a Chicago-based connected notification platform that warns motorists when emergency vehicles are approaching. Cargo is a New York-based in-vehicle general store that gives ride-share drivers cargo kits stocked with snacks and other items passengers may want.

“The possibilities are endless when you combine the experience and influence of a storied company like Ford with the energy and innovation of these inspiring startups,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies.

It’s unclear if or when any of the companies’ technology could end up on Ford vehicles, but executives said they’ll work with the automaker to enhance their capabilities. As part of the collaboration, HAAS Alert and Spatial will relocate some work to Metro Detroit to be near Ford.

“We came into Techstars confident in our technology, but still searching for a better, more impactful application,” said Lyden Foust, Spatial CEO. “No question, our product would not be where it is if it weren’t for the future-facing mindset of the Ford mentors.”

HAAS Alert plans to launch a pilot program in metro Detroit that would provide emergency vehicle data to drivers.

“Working with Ford gives us access to critical automotive applications and use our data to assist in the connected car and the autonomous vehicle space for communication in mobility,” said Cory Hohs, HAAS Alert CEO and co-founder.

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