Android creator Andy Rubin's new firm invests big in autonomous startup

Nauto hopes to one day provide its data services to automakers, and it's getting $12 million dollars from Playground to make that happen.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok

Andy Rubin helped found Android, Inc., which Google acquired in 2005. Rubin stayed on, only to leave in 2014 to start Playground Global, an incubator that focuses on artificial intelligence. Now, his business is putting $12 million in Series A funding behind Nauto, a data services company that hopes to enter the automotive industry in a big way.

Nauto is all about that data. Its current service involves using cameras, sensors and a cloud's worth of data to improve fleet logistics. Nauto's services include instant accident notification, as well as distraction notification, both of which boost fleet-company efficiency as fewer man-hours are wasted investigating vehicle issues.

Nauto-equipped vehicles are gathering data from locations around the world, after a successful pilot program in the San Franscisco Bay Area.

"We are creating a safer, smarter and congestion-free transportation system by using visual data, machine learning and hardware to design and build an onramp that will benefit the automotive industry, its supply chain and its consumers," said Dr. Stefan Heck, Nauto's CEO, in a statement. "With solid financing in place and access to Playground's facilities and braintrust, we'll get there even faster."

While its services can eventually be adapted to autonomous vehicles, Nauto's goal isn't to become an automaker. Instead, it's all about positioning itself as a supplier, putting its products into already established vehicles and making a fair chunk of change along the way.

With that $12 million from Playground, Nauto's a little closer to making that a reality.