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Verizon Invests In Self-driving Car Startup Renovo

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The telecom company is putting money in Renovo as part of a larger funding round for the autonomous-driving startup.

Verizon is the latest company to stick a toe into the self-driving car waters. The company did not disclose how much it invested in Renovo, but its contribution is part of a larger $10 million funding round, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move makes strategic sense for Verizon, as people would have more time to use their cell phones if they didn't have to drive, and autonomous cars could leverage embedded cellular connections and Wi-Fi to a greater degree than existing cars.

Renovo is probably best known for collaborating with Stanford University on a self-driving DeLorean DMC-12 aptly nicknamed MARTY. It provided the electric powertrain from its own Renovo Coupe, a 500-horsepower, $529,000 homage to the Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Renovo since its inception in 2010 wants to develop so-called "automated mobility on demand," using fleets of self-driving cars for ride-sharing services. The company believes this will dramatically cut the number of vehicles on city streets, potentially reducing pollution and traffic, and improving safety.

Renovo isn't expected to build its own autonomous cars. It will likely apply its tech to cars supplied by a partner manufacturer, or possibly work with a ride-sharing service to manage its fleet and the massive volume of data individual cars produce.

Verizon's investment in Renovo is a signal that the company is interested in autonomous cars. But it's unclear whether Renovo will actually let Verizon capitalize on that interest in a substantial way.


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