Audi injects €50 million into automated-driving tech company

07 February 2022

Audi and automotive-technology supplier Aptiv are pouring a combined $285 million (€250 million) into Vienna-based vehicle-software company TTTech Auto, helping it gain unicorn status – a market value of over $1 billion. With that valuation, the Austrian tech firm is hoping to expand in Asia and plans for potential acquisitions. It is also looking to invest in the development of its Motionwise software.

TTTech Auto was founded in 2018 by TTTech Group, along with Audi, chipmaker Infineon, and Samsung. The young company develops software and hardware platforms for automated driving, with a strong focus on advanced-safety systems. Carmakers use the software to manage data and improve safety systems. The company collaborates with several car manufacturers on their advanced-driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous-driving programmes.

The race is on

Aptiv will invest €200 million in TTTech Auto, while Audi is injecting €50 million into the company. The Volkswagen (VW) Group subsidiary is showing increasing interest in automated driving, which has become more than a trend in recent years. Instead, it is a central focus for carmakers racing to acquire more expertise in the field, primarily via acquisitions and equity investments.

Audi recently demonstrated the future of automated valet parking. This involves leaving a vehicle at the entrance of a car park for it to drive to a designated spot on its own while being controlled by an app. Last year, the carmaker also joined The Autonomous, a group dedicated to the development of vehicle autonomy, with the aim of bringing together carmakers, technology companies and researchers in the pursuit of mass autonomous-vehicle production.

While autonomous driving is picking up speed, tech and legal issues remain a decisive factor in how it will develop in the coming years. ‘The biggest challenge will definitely be the technology itself. It has to enable a highly-automated driving function that is convincingly smooth and, above all, safe,’ said Uta Klawitter, Audi’s head of general counsel legal services. ‘Only then – and this is the second challenge – will it gain social acceptance and the corresponding trust. For me, the third challenge is also clear: we need to harmonise the regulations at the international, or at least the European level.’

Software found in two million cars

TTTech Auto is hoping to address some of these issues with its safety-software platforms. It wants to assist car manufacturers in shortening the development cycles for software-defined cars, while promising safety across all functions. To date, the company’s MotionWise software can be found in two million vehicles. It aims to speed up the software-development process, including in series production, as well as feature updates over the air, and post-sales.

‘The next few years will be critical for the entire industry in the transition from automation to semi-autonomous driving and the software-defined vehicle,’ said Georg Kopetz, CEO of TTTech Auto. ‘With MotionWise, we are supporting this industry transformation as an independent company with the most-advanced safety-software platform on the market. This funding will strengthen our position as a leader in automotive-safety software and significantly increase our global footprint.’

Lead investor Aptiv has been working with the startup for several years to deploy the safety software-systems in cars across various VW Group brands. Audi’s partnership with TTTech Auto in the field of automated-driving technology has also been long-standing. All three companies have worked together on Audi’s central driver-assistance controller for automated-driving.

‘With the Volkswagen Group’s software company CARIAD, Audi is driving the introduction of that technology forward at full speed and TTTech Auto is an important partner along this path,’ said Audi CEO Markus Duesmann.