Bosch to acquire self-driving car technology company Atlatec

02 March 2022

Bosch is set to acquire autonomous vehicle technology company, Atlatec. The move was recently confirmed with the signing of a new agreement between the automotive supplier and digital-map maker.

Autonomous vehicle technology is developing rapidly as carmakers and suppliers look to keep pace with start-ups and automotive industry newcomers. Bosch wants to expand its own self-driving car capacities. With its latest acquisition, the supplier will be able to plot a path to greater self-driving capabilities.

As part of the agreement between the two companies, the purchase price will not be disclosed. Additionally, as is the norm with these business deals, the acquisition is subject to the approval of antitrust authorities.

High-resolution maps

Based in Karlsruhe, Germany, Atlatec provides high-resolution digital maps, which are employed by driver-assistance systems and automated driving. The company was spun out from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2015, and now employs some 25 people across Germany, Japan and the US. It will now join the Bosch-Domain Computing Solutions division as an independently operated company.

‘The planned acquisition of Atlatec further expands our expertise in the field of high-resolution digital maps and makes us even more diversified,’ said Dr Mathias Pillin, president of the Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division.

‘It makes Bosch the only company that can offer its customers all the necessary building blocks of automated driving – from actuators and sensors to software and maps – from a single source. We are thus consistently expanding our strong position in this area,’ he added.

Bosch’s road signature technology also looks to benefit from Atlatec’s map-based expertise. The supplier’s system uses swarm data to enable self-driving cars to determine their exact position with a digital map.

Self-driving safety

Functioning alongside onboard sensors, such as radar, video, and ultrasonic technology, high-resolution digital maps play a fundamental role in automated-driving systems. They contain valuable information about the vehicle’s surroundings and nearby traffic, extending beyond the reach of on-board sensors. These data sets effectively allow autonomous technology to function conveniently and safely. Using information from a map, an autonomous car can adjust its speed in good time before a particularly tight bend, for example.

Atlatec provides the building blocks for single-source mapping. The company enables data recording and processing, as well as the creation of the maps themselves. It developed a scalable solution for map generation using its own sensor box and associated software. The raw data collected here is analysed using artificial intelligence (AI), which is equipped with additional information about traffic signs, the sharpness of bends and structural features of life streetcar tracks. These AI algorithms continue to learn, taking in an increasing amount about the road and environment.

The higher the degree of automation, the more closely map creation and driving strategy programming must work in unison. ‘The resulting mapping solution is very intelligent and agile, which sets it apart from other vendors. For example, the AI it uses identifies and maps road features such as guardrails and lane markings with the highest accuracy and consistency. This lets us design our driving strategy algorithms even more precisely,’ said Dr Stephan Hönle, senior vice president of the automated driving unit in the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division.