Autonomous Vehicle

Continental acquires stake in Kopernikus Automotive

Continental is investing in Leipzig-based startup Kopernikus Automotive with a minority stake. The two companies have agreed not to disclose the size of the investment. As a specialist in autonomous driving technologies, Kopernikus develops solutions for infrastructure-based maneuvering of vehicles. The technology is based on sensors permanently installed in the infrastructure and artificial intelligence-based algorithms that centrally move the vehicles. The first two use cases of this technology are automated parking in parking garages, also known as Automated Valet Parking (AVP), and autonomous maneuvering of, for example, newly produced vehicles at vehicle manufacturers or in logistics areas.

The first vehicles are already being steered through vehicle factories without a driver, based on infrastructure – this technology will also decisively change parking in the near future. With Automated Valet Parking, drivers get out, for example at an airport terminal, hand the vehicle over to the infrastructure via an app, and the car parks autonomously. The vehicle is guided by the infrastructure installed in the parking garage. Cameras are used as sensors here. At the heart of the system are AI-based algorithms that ensure safe and optimal orchestration and guidance of all vehicles. Kopernikus Automotive provides a solution of this kind that can be cost-effectively implemented in any parking garage, hotel and airport, making it ready for autonomous parking.

The prerequisite for using the solution is an additional vehicle function (Central Motion Control), which converts the trajectory specified by the intelligent infrastructure into the control of the corresponding actuators. The vehicle components required for this are an automatic transmission, an electric parking brake, electric steering assistance and an intelligent communication unit. These are already installed as standard in many vehicles.

“In the future, cars in factories, logistics centers and parking garages will be moved autonomously. Kopernikus and Continental are working together to develop a safe, comfortable and affordable solution. At Continental, we are working on both solutions, an autonomous parking procedure based on vehicle sensor data and a solution based on intelligent infrastructure – similar to intelligent intersections. For us, the stake in Kopernikus is the logical next step in moving forward with both topics, while at the same time offering a timely and marketable solution,” says Ralph Lauxmann, head of Strategy and Future Solutions for the Autonomous Mobility and Safety business area at Continental.

At IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich from September 6–12, Continental´s and Kopernikus´s solution can be seen in action for the first time. Together with Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover and the Volkswagen Automotive software subsidiary CARIAD, Continental and Kopernikus will be presenting a joint driving demonstration in the IAA “Messe West” parking garage in Munich. As part of the VDA Automated Valet Parking (AVP) project, the focus will be on demonstrating the interoperability of the infrastructure-based solution with several vehicle manufacturers and other infrastructure providers. “Here, you can experience live how we interact with various vehicle manufacturers and brands in order to implement autonomous parking for everyone,” says Stefan Jenzowsky, managing director of Kopernikus Automotive.

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