Continental is participating in the German-U.S. software specialist Apex.AI as a strategic investor. In doing so, the technology company is underscoring the great importance of intelligent software applications for future generations of vehicles.
Continental and Apex.AI have already been cooperating since 2020 on the industrialization of an innovative operating system for vehicles. With the minority stake now completed, the two companies are intensifying their collaboration in order to rapidly provide a near-series solution. The investment amount is not being disclosed.
Apex.AI has developed the meta-operating system Apex.OS from a widely used programming framework, the open source code ROS (Robot Operating System). Apex.OS is the first system of its kind for automotive applications that seamlessly supports all phases of software development and use without time-consuming customization, from the concept phase to pre-development to production use – and has already been certified by the German testing organization TÜV Nord for its high, international safety standards in the automotive industry. This means that the software system is approved for series use on the road.
Apex.OS is a robust, versatile, basic software platform that can be used to implement further software solutions quickly, easily and in a developer-friendly manner, especially for new advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving functions.
“With Apex.AI, we have a strong cooperation partner at our side to meet the major challenges of autonomous driving with innovative software solutions,” said Frank Petznick, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit at Continental. “The complexity of vehicle software and electronics architectures is increasing rapidly, and the number of digital functionalities is rising.
The automobile is indeed becoming more and more like a smartphone on wheels, where the development of hardware and software is increasingly independent of each other and significantly accelerated. With the help of the already certified meta operating system Apex.OS, we will significantly shorten the development cycles of new mobility functions, especially for automated and autonomous driving, in line with the highest safety standards. Our investment in Apex.AI is an important step into the future.”
Flexible, intelligent software solutions for the sustainable mobility of tomorrow
In addition to powerful hardware, the vehicle of the future will essentially be defined by intelligent and innovative software. It will be comprehensively networked, and its functions can be improved and expanded at any time via updates. This requires a completely new architecture for vehicle electronics – and for software systems connected to the cloud. A key approach is to reduce the complexity of the systems despite ever larger and more elaborate programs.
Flexible, scalable, and user-friendly software solutions are the code for the future of the automotive industry as well as the key to tomorrow’s safe, efficient, and sustainable mobility. Continental has the capacities and the know-how to successfully design technologically leading solutions.
The company employs around 17,000 software and IT specialists – which means that around one third of all Continental engineers develop cutting-edge software solutions. Thanks to the cooperation with Apex.AI and the joint industrialization of the meta operating system, Continental can now add an essential component to its product portfolio.
The strategy: partnerships with selected technology companies
Continental works closely with select technology partners to take decisive evolutionary steps. For example, Continental is cooperating with sensor specialist AEye on the development of lidar sensors – a key technology for automated driving. Continental recently set up a joint venture with Horizon Robotics, a leading provider of edge computing platforms for artificial intelligence (AI).
The aim is to integrate algorithms from Horizon Robotics into smart camera systems and control units from Continental. And last but not least, embedded software solutions for a wide range of driving functions are being developed at Elektrobit, a Continental subsidiary. With its agile partner ecosystem, Continental is able to bring innovations into series production and onto the road even faster.
Continental’s investment in Apex.AI is another example of how targeted investments and partnerships enable significant technology leaps towards sustainable mobility of tomorrow. Apex.AI and Continental’s innovative software platform is an important element in the technology company’s partnership portfolio to support customers, partners, and Continental’s IT specialists in the development and implementation of new software solutions – and not least to enable the integration of the vehicle into the Internet of Things (IoT).
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. Continental generated sales of €37.7 billion in 2020 and currently employs more than 192,000 people in 58 countries and markets. On October 8, 2021, the company celebrated its 150th anniversary.