Automotive technology

Automotive technology provider ZF acquires stake in start-up StradVision to accelerate development of AI-powered perception technology for autonomous vehicles –

Author: Eric Walz

StradVision, a company developing AI-powered computer vision technology for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), today announced that German automotive technology provider ZF Friedrichshafen AG ( “ZF”) acquired a 6% stake in the company.

As part of this investment, the two companies will expand their portfolio of perception and safety technologies for autonomous vehicles.

ZF is one of the world’s largest automotive component suppliers. The company’s products are found in many vehicles from the world’s leading automakers, including BMW and Toyota Motor Corp.

ZF offers a comprehensive portfolio of components and systems for active and passive safety technology, which more recently focuses on the four areas of autonomous driving, electromobility, integrated safety and vehicle motion control, including steering systems. ZF’s autonomous driving technology also includes the high-performance ZF ProAI processor and vehicle software supporting ADAS and autonomous driving functions.

“Partnering with StradVision significantly expands our autonomous driving perception and sensor fusion capabilities,” said Marc Bolitho, Engineering Manager of Electronics and ADAS Division of ZF Group. “Together with our sensors, middleware platform and high-performance computing solutions, this vision perception software expertise from StradVision can provide a key part of our fusion of environmental sensors for shuttles, utility and light vehicles that can be optimized for centralized electrical architectures.”

StradVision was founded in 2014 and has become an automotive industry pioneer in AI-based vision processing technology. The company says it is accelerating the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles by providing automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, with powerful perception technology at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

StradVision has developed its own computer vision software called “SVNet”, which enables vehicles to accurately detect and identify objects, such as other vehicles, lanes, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, road signs and traffic lights. The technology works even in harsh weather conditions or poor lighting.

Strandvision’s software uses deep learning-based perception algorithms that rely on a relatively small amount of physical memory and have low power requirements. The software supports a wide variety of hardware platforms and can also be customized and optimized for other automotive security systems.

StradVison’s SVNet software also provides a depth map solution using innovative “pseudo LiDAR” technology that replaces traditional laser-based LiDAR sensors, which are expensive for automakers due to their high performance requirements. The technology mimics the way traditional lidar scans an environment and has the potential to dramatically reduce the use of expensive lidar sensors for large-scale autonomous vehicles.

Pseudo lidar technology offers high precision distance measurements of 3D objects using only a single channel camera. It essentially treats the camera output as if it were lidar data.

“We are proud to count ZF among our strategic investors,” said Junhwan Kim, CEO of StradVision. “Together with global mobility specialist ZF, we will strive to accelerate the autonomous driving market with cutting-edge perception solutions.”

StradVision continues to work with other automotive component suppliers on similar safety technology.

In December 2021, StradVision announced that it had partnered with LG Electronics for the development of an advanced vehicle instrument cluster platform based on Augmented Reality (AR). The two companies are working closely together on the development of LG Electronics’ next-generation augmented reality solutions that provide drivers with a higher level of safety.

The Augmented Reality Head-Up Instrument Cluster (AR HUD) projects information such as navigation and various ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) warnings onto the windshield based on data collected in real time via sensors fitted to the the vehicle.

In August 2021, StradVision announced the establishment of a subsidiary in Shanghai to help the company tap into the growing Chinese market for self-driving technology. China is the largest automotive market in the world.

In January, StradVision announced the establishment of a new North American headquarters in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The company says the new US office will help it better develop new market opportunities in the US automotive industry.

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