Dubai startup raises $1.5m to use AI to reduce vehicle accidents and opens US office in Detroit

Matt Burns
Derq aims to make cars smarter and recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Techstars Mobility Accelerator.

Derq aims to make cars smarter and recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Techstars Mobility Accelerator. In addition to growing its team and opening an office in Detroit, the company plans on using the cash to advance its tech that aims to reduce vehicle accidents by improving how cars and infrastructure talk to each other.

The company sees its product integrating into existing and future vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) communication. Derq has developed and patented an application layer that sits between these communication layers and aims to predict incidents such as crashes and then notifies nearby drivers -- something that will gain even more relevance as more autonomous vehicles hit the road.

The project was spun out of MIT where the founder and CEO Georges Aoude earned a Ph.D in aerospace engineering in 2011. The company is based in Dubai and plans to soon open its first office in the US in downtown Detroit and seek partnerships with auto makers.

Earlier this month, Derq signed an agreement with Dubai-based agencies to trial its technology. The company says this Memorandum of Understanding aims to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of connected vehicle technology in regards to road safety.

“Dubai is at the forefront of adopting innovative technologies that focus on improving road safety and autonomous vehicle deployments. We’re honored to be working with Smart Dubai Office, Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Oasis Authority to implement Derq’s road safety technology in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis,” said Dr. Georges Aoude, CEO for Derq in a blog post. “While headquartered in Dubai, we recently graduated from Techstars Mobility in Detroit, and felt it was important to open an office in Detroit - the epicenter of mobility innovation in the U.S. Our recent seed round will help Derq establish a team here, grow our team in Dubai and continue improving our technology.”

The vehicle communication sector is quickly gaining new entrants as more companies try to become a key part of what is sure to be an important communication layer. Derq sits at an interesting vantage point by serving both V2V and V2I though they're going to have to sell their vision to auto makers, auto suppliers and government regulators, which could prove a tougher challenge than building the product.

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