In the shadow of one of the world's largest automakers, a small startup has been quietly testing technology that could soon help prevent traffic crashes.
Derq, a startup headquartered in Dubai, installed software and hardware last year at Randolph Street and Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit. The company has developed a system with cameras and radar that can detect potential red-light runners and other hazards, then communicate them to road users within two seconds.
Spitting distance from Derq's test site is the global headquarters of General Motors. For a startup trying to gain visibility with established automakers, the location couldn't be better.
That's something of a coincidence. But surrounding car companies with innovators is one reason PlanetM, a mobility-minded division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has doled out grants to Derq and other startups.
PlanetM has maintained a Pilot Grants program that intends to distribute up to $1 million by year end to startups that test their tech either at proving grounds, such as Mcity in Ann Arbor or the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, or on public streets. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is expected to announce more recipients early this week.