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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Continental Acquires Stake in Artificial Intelligence Specialist, Kopernikus Automotive.

Technology company Continental is investing in Leipzig-based startup Kopernikus Automotive with an undisclosed minority stake. As a specialist in autonomous driving technologies, Kopernikus develops solutions for infrastructure-based manoeuvring of vehicles. Sensors are permanently installed in the infrastructure and artificial intelligence-based algorithms that centrally move the vehicles. This technology's first two use cases are automated parking in parking garages, also known as Automated Valet Parking (AVP), and autonomous manoeuvring of, for example, newly produced vehicles at vehicle manufacturers or in logistics areas.

Based on infrastructure, the first vehicles are already being steered through vehicle factories without a driver, and Continental believes this technology will also offer opportunities to change parking decisively. One example raised would be Automated Valet Parking, drivers get out at an airport terminal, hand the vehicle over to the infrastructure via an app, and the car park autonomously. The car 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 all vehicles' safe and optimal orchestration and guidance. 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 are automatic transmission, an electric parking brake, electric steering assistance and a smart 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 to implement autonomous parking for everyone,” says Stefan Jenzowsky, managing director of Kopernikus Automotive.

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