BMW i Ventures Investing In Smartphone Driving Analytics Startup Zendrive

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BmwBMW i Ventures — the venture capital arm of the BMW Group — has made an investment into the smartphone driving analytics startup company Zendrive, according to recent reports.

By utilizing data and analytics gathered from smartphones rather that gathered via other means (OBDs), the startup aims to provide services to various companies and to make driving “better, safer, and more efficient for everyone.”

The recent investment move is being accompanied by a number of other related investments into mobility services — such as investments into Chargemaster, JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, and MyCityWay.

The Zendrive system utilizes sensors on a smartphone to monitor and gather data on a driver’s behaviors. This data is the processed by Zendrive’s Driver-Centric Analytics program to come to a “Zendrive score that factors in cell phone use, speed, swerves, hard stops, fast accelerations, fatigue, as well as weather, trip duration, time of day, and more.”

Green Car Congress provides more information:

In a whitepaper (Meng et al) published on the company’s site, three of the Zendrive team (from the University of Illinois) report that smartphones can attain speed estimations that correlate 98% to OBD without energy constraints, and around 94.6% to OBD when GPS is completely turned off.

The results are reasonably robust to various scenarios, such as in highways and city streets, weather and traffic conditions, and different phone placements. The Zendrive team suggests that further improvements are possible through more sophisticated machine learning and signal processing on the sensor data.

With the personal transportation ecosystem poised for disruption, its unclear if OBDs or smartphones will serve as the platform for technological innovation. This paper is an attempt to compare and contrast their capabilities and how they translate to the end goal of understanding driving analytics.


A bit of background on the company: Zendrive was founded in 2013, and is currently based out of San Francisco, California. The company currently possesses a number of rideshare companies, valet parking, etc, as customers. And current investors include (in addition to BMW I Ventures) some of the founders of Yahoo and PayPal, as well as First Round Capital and Bill Ford’s Fontinalis Partners.


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Image Credit: BMW

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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