German automotive supplier ZF buys stake in autonomous cars tech company

01 April 2022

ZF, one of the biggest automotive suppliers in Germany, has acquired a 6% stake in South Korean software company StradVision. The firm specialises in artificial intelligence-based vision processing technology for autonomous vehicles and advanced-driver assistance (ADAS) systems.

The acquisition will help ZF expand its product portfolio, especially in the realms of automated-driving perception software – enabling features to meet regulatory safety standards. The company did not disclose financial details of the deal but added it would bolster its automated-driving SAE Level 3 and Level 4 systems. The software will be suitable for a range of mobility needs.

‘The partnership with StradVision considerably extends our autonomous driving perception and sensor fusion capabilities,’ said Marc Bolitho, head of engineering of the electronics and ADAS unit at ZF Group.

‘Together with our sensors, middleware platform, and high-performance computing solutions, this vision perception software expertise from StradVision can provide a key component of our environmental sensor fusion for shuttles, commercial and light vehicles that can be optimised for centralised electrical architectures,’ he added.

Automated-driving software

ZF will be a key investor for StradVision, whose other shareholders include Hyundai, LG, and the Industrial Bank of Korea. The company’s high-performance software allows vehicles to detect and identify objects, be it cars, lanes, pedestrians, animals, free spaces, traffic signs, and lights – key features for autonomous vehicles.

Poor weather conditions or lighting do not affect the efficacy of StradVision’s automated-driving software, StradVision said. The company, founded in 2014, has developed its systems based on deep learning-based perception algorithms. Its software only requires a small amount of memory, has low energy consumption, and supports various hardware platforms.

The automated-driving software is used in high-volume models of ADAS and autonomous vehicles. Having ZF on board will allow StradVision to expand its market position. ‘Together with the global mobility specialist ZF, we will strive to speed up the market for autonomous driving with leading perception solutions,’ said Junhwan Kim, CEO at StradVision.

Autonomous driving

ZF is eager to make autonomous-driving solutions available for cities and urban areas. Earlier this year, the automotive supplier presented its autonomous shuttle, a battery-electric autonomous-driving vehicle, dubbed the ZF Shuttle. The company’s subsidiary, 2getthere, develops and produces the ZF shuttles and has been operating shuttle systems for more than two decades.

Source: ZF

Autonomous driving and vehicle software are key areas within ZF’s product portfolio. This spans system solutions for the automotive and mobility sectors, with the company producing high-performance computers, such as the ZF ProAI. This supports ADAS and automated-driving features, including sensors like cameras, radars, and smart actuators. ZF’s ADAS business includes the fusion of sensor technologies, with its ZF Shuttle now capable of manoeuvring at SAE Level 4.

Last year, the automotive supplier announced a strategic partnership in Germany, aiming to bring highly automated and autonomous bus shuttles onto the roads there. ZF expects that more than 30,000 highly-automated or autonomous shuttle buses will be needed in the country by 2035.