The development of self-driving cars is regarded as the ultimate discipline for automakers. Bosch is a driving force behind the progress being made in this discipline. Now, it’s strengthening its hand by acquiring Five, Europe’s leading startup in the field of automated driving. At six locations in the United Kingdom, its roughly 140 associates are working on the vision of safe, self-driving vehicles. Five gave preference to Bosch over other takeover bidders. The two companies share a common vision of automated driving and of safe automated driving systems. The agreements with Five were signed at the beginning of April. It has been agreed that the financial details will not be disclosed. The acquisition is still subject to approval by the antitrust authorities.
“Automated driving is set to make road traffic safer. We want Five to give an extra boost to our work in software development for safe automated driving, and offer our customers European-made technology,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector. Headquartered in Cambridge, U.K., Five is to be part of the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. “Scale matters in building automated driving technology. Bosch is a global leader in driving assistance technologies, with core technologies and vast data lakes that will be essential in bringing safe self-driving systems to market. We’re excited for Five to become part of Europe’s most powerful SAE Level 4 player and to be a part of Bosch’s future success,” says Stan Boland, the CEO of Five.
Simulation environment allows software to be tested and validated
Since it was set up in 2016, Five has built a team of experts in cloud software, safety assurance, robotics and machine learning, and has placed itself at the forefront of developing state-of-the-art software and artificial intelligence-based solutions for autonomous driving, through SAE Level 4. The startup now focuses primarily on a cloud-based development and testing platform for the software used in self-driving cars. This offers engineers the programs they need to create automated driving software at pace, and to test it before and during its deployment in test vehicles. The platform is able to analyze real data from a fleet of test vehicles, create advanced testing scenarios, and build a simulation environment that makes it possible to assess and validate system behavior at hyper-scale.
Agile collaboration between Bosch and Five teams
At Bosch, Five will strengthen the company’s agile project structure for the development of self-driving cars. The two teams’ software engineering environments complement each other very well, and will be merged to form a single solution. “Five is the perfect fit for our engineering activities – not least due to its associates’ mindset and agile approach. This brings us closer to our aim of getting safe automated driving onto our roads,” says Dr. Mathias Pillin, president of the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. For Bosch, moreover, the acquisition is a further step toward consolidating its market position in software and automated driving. Only recently, the company extended its portfolio by acquiring Atlatec GmbH, a specialist in the field of high-resolution digital maps. This means Bosch will be the only company that can offer its customers all the necessary building blocks of automated driving from a single source – from actuators, sensors, and maps to software and the engineering environment.
Bosch is working on all levels of automated driving
For Bosch, automated driving is and will remain a strategic business field. The company is the innovation leader in this area. With its driver assistance systems and the requisite sensor technology, it laid the foundation for all automation levels at an early stage. Bosch is taking a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, with the aim of making driving safer and more relaxed, it is developing solutions for private vehicles with a focus on driver assistance and on partially and conditionally automated systems (SAE Levels 1 to 3). On the other hand, the team is also working on solutions for higher levels of automation, with a focus on fleet vehicles and new operating models. In the logistics sector in particular, Bosch sees attractive applications and business potential for SAE Level 4 automated driving systems. Moreover, Bosch has already developed automated valet parking, the first production-ready driving function not to require a driver.