ClearMotion lands $100M to swap software for car shocks and boost self-driving UX

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ClearMotion, a company that’s building an alternative chassis for vehicle makers that replaces traditional physical shock absorbers with digital, software-driven adaptive actuators, has readied $100 million in a Series C round, led by a group of clients advised by J.P. Morgan’s asset management wing and with participation from NEA, Qualcomm Ventures and more.

The company claims to have created the “world’s first digital chassis,” which goes beyond traditional shock absorbers and even driver-tunable suspension systems like those found in some high-end sports cars, allowing for vehicles that can monitor road conditions and adapt to them in real time, providing for optimal comfort and performance. ClearMotion says it achieves this through “proprietary algorithms,” which is a unique use of in-car smarts not related to autonomous driving or driver-assist features directly.

There is a way in which ClearMotion’s tech might be useful in a self-driving future, however: The company says its technology can help with the goal of making the in-cabin experience of riding in a self-driving whip much more enjoyable, and potentially more productive — you don’t want work in your mobile office interrupted by potholes, after all.

Good old-fashioned physical suspension has some advantages, like fewer bugs, but ClearMotion’s tech could indeed be a big help to a future where in-car stability is more important, since those spaces act more and more as extensions of our other living environs. Plus, no more spilling hot coffee all over my lap while trying to sip that sweet, sweet caffeine while driving.