The new mobility landscape has made curb space in cities a hot commodity. No longer are curbs just for buses, taxis, deliveries and parking. Now those traditional use cases have to contend with bike lanes, ride-hail, same-day deliveries, dockless vehicles and more. As a result, cities and investors are starting to prioritize software that helps manage curb space.
Enter Automotus, a four-year-old startup that has just closed a $9 million seed round to advance its automated curb management solution. The company says its tech can reduce congestion and emissions by up to 10%; reduce double-parking hazards by 64%; increase parking turnover by 26%; and increase parking revenue for cities by more than 500%.
Automotus works with cities like Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Omaha and Bethlehem to automate payments for vehicle unloading and parking, enforce curb violations and manage preferred loading zones and discounted rates for commercial EVs, the startup said.
“We also integrate with other mobility services providers to help cities get a more comprehensive view of how the public right of way is being used and by which modes for planning, policy and pricing efforts,” Jordan Justus, CEO of Automotus, told TechCrunch.
In March 2021, Automotus raised $1.2 million in seed funding, so the company has managed to tack on an additional $7.8 million in the intervening year and a half. The most recent funds were led by CityRock Venture Partners, Quake Capital, Bridge Investments, Unbridled Ventures, Keiki Capital, NY Angels, Irish Angles, SUM Ventures and LA’s Cleantech Incubator Impact Fund.
“The bulk of the funding will be used to execute and support deployments in at least 15 new cities coming online in 2023,” said Justus. “We have a big year of launches ahead of us and are laser-focused on delivering the best possible solutions for our clients and continuing to scale up previous pilots.”
While Automotus is largely offering a software-as-a-service product, installing the right hardware is an important element in collecting data. In its partner cities, the startup deploys cellular-enabled cameras equipped with Automotus’s proprietary computer vision technology. The cameras are mounted onto traffic and street lights in areas where you might see plenty of loading and unloading or in zero emissions delivery zones.
With Automotus’s tech, there’s no need to download mobile apps or use meters. The cameras capture images of license plates and automatically collect data, issue invoices for parking or send out citations if a vehicle has been non-compliant to the city’s regulations. The technology blurs any faces and de-identifies data to ensure privacy of street users.
Clarification: A previous version of this article stated the round was led by City Rock Ventures. The name of the VC is CityRock Venture Partners.