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ClearMotion Smooths Path To Commercialization With $115M For AI-Driven Suspension Tech

ClearMotion Inc., a startup focused on giving people a smoother driving experience, has closed on a $115 million Series D.

The funding brings the Boston-based company’s total capital raised to nearly $270 million since its inception in 2009, according to CEO and co-founder Shakeel Avadhany. In a press release, ClearMotion said the financing was in the form of preferred stock, and led by Franklin Templeton Investments with “significant participation from clients advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Microsoft, Bridgestone, Qualcomm, World Innovation Lab, NewView Capital, and Eileses Capital also contributed to the round, according to ClearMotion.

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The company’s last raise was a $100 million February 2017 Series C round that included participation from NEA and a few of the firms mentioned above, namely J.P. Morgan, Qualcomm, World Innovation Lab, and Elieses Capital.)

Avadhany told me via e-mail this morning that ClearMotion company plans to use the funds toward “expanding operations, including our production facility, product development and team expansion across the U.S.” Specifically, he added that the company will be growing its data science and machine learning teams.

Per its website, ClearMotion “is built on a software-centric, electro-hydraulic core called the ‘activalve.’ ” The company describes its offering as “the world’s first proactive ride system” and claims that it will transform “the way your car rides and handles.”

So, what does that mean? ClearMotion says its aim is to mitigate road roughness in real time through a combination of software and hardware. It claims to do for motion what noise-canceling does for noise by “predicting” the road via AI-driven algorithms. Its technology, the company says, senses uneven road surfaces and enables a vehicle to react.

Its trademarked road surface mapping software platform “fingerprints” road surfaces and stores the data in the cloud. Traces of road surface contours are compiled from existing vehicle sensor systems and synthesized in the cloud to “proactively” improve a ride, the company says.

ClearMotion has 241 issued patents which contain over 5,000 patent claims, according to Avadhany. In its press release, ClearMotion also noted it has completed “successful development programs on multiple car lines” and has commissioned a pilot production facility for its first OEM launches. Avadhany said he can’t disclose specific customers at this point, but does expect “to have news to announce later this year.” He did say that ClearMotion has signed “a tier one” supplier (to an automotive company) and is working to ship that product in 2019.

Another car-related company is also reportedly in the midst of raising a nine-digit-round. According to Recode, Palo Alto-based autonomous driving startup Aurora — which was founded in 2016 “with a highly regarded executive team from Tesla, Uber, and Google” — is said to be valued at over $2 billion in a new fundraising round. Sequoia Capital is expected to be the lead investor in the round, which is expected to total at least $500 million, reported Recode.

Note: I updated this article post-publication with information provided by ClearMotion.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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