LISNR and PILOT join Jaguar Land Rover incubator

Jaguar Land Rover has brought two new startups into its Portland Tech Incubator: LISNR and PILOT Automotive Labs. Previous cohorts at the incubator have ranged from parking apps to drones; these two continue to build on JLR’s creative approach to the automotive future.

LISNR uses ultrasonic audio to transmit data. That’s right — it transmits and receives sounds we can’t hear. LISNR calls them Smart Tones. Any two devices — two vehicles’ black boxes, say, or a car and a pedestrian with an enabled smartphone in their pocket — can send and receive messages once they’re in range of each other. All the devices need is a microphone or a speaker, depending on whether they’re sending or receiving, which keeps their power requirements low.

LISNR is already being used in non-automotive applications, like the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. The company was also part of the inaugural AutoMobili-D startup expo at the 2017 North America International Auto Show in Detroit.

PILOT promises to make any car autonomous. A sensor plugin is installed on your car’s roof to take in data. (The sensor is mounted on a roof rack in the image above.) You can use that data to help you improve your driving, like many OBD-II port plug-in devices do, or you can connect it to your steering and braking systems and let it take over some simple driving tasks. It also connects to the cloud to learn of traffic situations and share its data.

PILOT brings some of the current advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to any car, like road sign recognition, lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring. So using the term “autonomous,” as the startup does on its website, might be a bit premature. This is SAE Level 2 at best. But it is a step toward bringing life-saving collision mitigation technology to cars already on the road.