Reed City Company Invents New ‘Eyes’ For Self-Driving Cars

It’s a company with roots that go back half a century, and it is now helping to lead the charge for the global auto industry.

It’s based right here in Northern Michigan.

It’s called “Nartron,” and its goal is to make autonomous cars less of a theory and more of a reality, while also invent other changes to the way cars work that help mold the future of driving for the world..

The company recently invented a new “lens technology” that puts eyes on cars that drive by themselves.

“Nartron is 50 years old,” says Norman Rautiola, president of Nartron. “We’ve had many automotive industry technology firsts, more than 50.”

Norman Rautiola and his company have a list of industry firsts, longer than his company’s existed.

It’s headquartered in Reed City, with several other locations statewide.

“This is a wonderful place to work and we have some 200, 300 acres,” Rautiola says. “We are off by ourselves, just north of town. It’s an ideal place to do this work.”

Nationally, Nartron is ranked eighth for its role in changing the industrial and technological fabric of the US.

The focus now is building new eyes to guide autonomous cars.

“This are happening in real-time, but at a very high velocity, the cameras,” Rautiola says. “As soon as there is any distortion in that image, to be safe, the car should shut down.”

But even before the leap forward in self-driving tech, Nartron’s improvements won global attention.

“We are selling to the automotive world globally, and I mean globally to people like Tesla in California, BMW in Munich.”

Rautiola’s computerized production lines, ranging anywhere from $9 million to $13 million, makes inventions like the circuit boards that you might see inside of a screen in a Jeep, brings about $30 million worth in sales from just one customer a year.

The focus has to be zero-defect, has to compete internationally so that a product from this can reach around the globe.

“Nartron is just founded on being highly-innovated,” Rautiola says. “We have over 400 patents.”

Thanks to Nartron’s “lens technology,” the world is likely one step closer to putting a driver-less car on the road.

“It’s to be in that space and have the technology to be ahead of everybody else is shocking, but that’s who we are,” Rautiola says.