Autonomous driving: Bosch wants to drastically accelerate software development with an acquisition
Stuttgart The race for the self-driving car is the most exciting future question in the automotive industry. Only those who are ahead here will make the leap into the digitization of the car. The world’s largest automotive supplier Bosch wants to significantly increase its development speed with the takeover of the British software specialist Five.
“The takeover will make us faster when testing the software and we can get vehicles on the road faster,” says Mathias Pillin of the Handelsblatt. He has been head of the Bosch special division for autonomous driving with 17,000 developers since the beginning of 2021. It’s about systems up to so-called “Level 4”, where the computer takes full control of the car.
Founded six years ago, Five has 140 employees at six locations in the UK and aims to fill an important gap at Bosch. The software start-up not only offers engineers programs for creating software for automated driving, but above all has a cloud-based development and test platform for the software used in self-driving cars.
The contracts with Five were signed in early April. It was agreed not to disclose the details. The foundation company Bosch is thus landing a technologically big fish from the European start-up scene. However, the antitrust authorities still have to approve the takeover.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
Five is “the right piece of the puzzle”
“Five is very, very fast in data processing, testing, validation and algorithms. It’s the right piece of the puzzle for our development activities,” emphasizes Pillin.
The Bosch manager is also responsible for the hottest project in the German auto industry: 500 developers and a team of the same size from the VW subsidiary Cariad are supposed to bring autonomous driving up to “Level 3” onto the road, in which the driver sometimes takes his hands off the steering wheel can take, for example when driving on the motorway.
Europe’s largest car manufacturer and the world’s largest automotive supplier joined forces at the beginning of the year after months of preparation. It is the ultimate attempt to create a German solution in autonomous driving.
Volkswagen’s competitors, on the other hand, are increasingly relying on the expertise of American technology groups. For example, Mercedes recently entered into a close cooperation with Nvidia, in which the Americans also supply extensive software packages for their chips. With Qualcomm, BMW also relies on a chip designer with roots in the mobile world.
The US corporations are thus becoming increasingly important and are threatening the supremacy of the major automotive suppliers such as Bosch, ZF and Continental. “In the end it will be about who delivers the best software modules at the best costs. In any case, our software runs on all chips,” said Pillin. In the past, Bosch managed every vehicle start-up.
>> Read also: Imminent loss of status: How Germany’s automotive suppliers are fighting for their future business
The start-up Five that has now been taken over does not come directly into the cooperation with Cariad, but it indirectly strengthens Bosch’s position. The Swabians also entered into cooperation with VW at the beginning of the year in order to gain access to Volkswagen’s driving data.
Train artificial intelligence
The vehicles collect data with their sensors, which are processed in the development department and fed back into the vehicle. This is used to train the algorithms. This perfects the artificial intelligence in the vehicle. This is how the vehicle learns the driving situation.
Five’s technology platform should at least allow Bosch to carry out some of the tasks faster and more precisely than before – also in the project with VW. After the merger, the partners had already indicated that if successful, the partnership could be extended to level 4.
Volkswagen wants to offer this high level of automation in the next generation of electric cars. The car manufacturer is currently developing the successor models to the ID series under the project name “Trinity”. VW boss Herbert Diess emphasized that the Level 4 capability of the Trinity vehicles should make automated driving accessible to a wide range of customers. VW sees the sale of automated driving functions as an important future source of income. The Trinity model series is planned to be introduced from 2026.
“When developing automated driving, size also matters,” emphasized Five CEO Stan Boland. Bosch is one of the world’s leading providers of driver assistance and has key technologies and large amounts of data that are essential for the market launch of safe self-driving systems, the CEO explains his decision in favor of the Swabian foundation group.
Collaboration: Roman Tyborski
More: Bosch boss warns against German withdrawal from Russian gas supplies