Startup Aims to Retrofit Autonomous Tech

Silicon Valley startup Ghost Locomotion Inc. is developing a semi-automated driving system that it hopes to sell directly to consumers for use in current vehicles by the end of next year.

The system would be limited to use during highway driving to eliminate the need for more sophisticated sensors and advanced software required for complex city environments.

Ghost’s aftermarket kit would use eight cameras positioned around the vehicle, all linked to a trunk-mounted processor, company officials tell Axios.

The company benchmarks how real-world drivers react to different scenarios, then programs the responses into its system. To build its database, Ghost is outfitting hundreds of test vehicles (including some ride-hailing cars) with its technology this year and plans to expand the program to thousands of vehicles in 2020, according to Axios.

Ghost says it won’t begin retail sales until it can verify that the automated system is safer than human drivers. The company also vows to undercut the pricing of Tesla Inc.’s $7,000 self-driving software package.

Founded in 2017 by CEO John Hayes and chief technology officer Volkmar Uhlig, Ghost reportedly has raised more than $60 million from investors such as Khosla Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures. Uhlig previously worked on IBM Corp.’s Watson artificial intelligence platform. Hayes co-founded a data storage company and worked for Yahoo.