German groups ZF Friedrichshafen AG and HELLA are collaborating to add to their autonomous portfolios with camera and radar development.
In a press release issued by the companies, Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG said of the partnership:
This strategic partnership for sensor technology with HELLA enhances our position as a complete systems supplier for modern assistance systems as well as autonomous driving functions.
Dr. Rolf Breidenbach, CEO at HELLA added:
HELLA is a strong and experienced provider of sensor technologies. Our knowledge aligns perfectly with ZF's expertise. By combining our strengths, we clearly aim to provide market leading and high performing assistance systems and autonomous driving functions.
The partnership is non-exclusive, more of a spoken understanding between the companies that they are to share their automotive experience and information with each other to further develop technology. The companies said that they have chosen this way because they feel it makes no sense to compete with each other when the automotive industry is changing so rapidly. They believe that collaborations are what will be better for the market as a whole.
Both companies are hoping to benefit from each other. The plan is to share information specifically in relation to sensor technology including front camera systems and radar systems.
Their first joint project will be working on developing front camera systems, knowing that in the next few years, demand for it will rise. ZF will provide hardware and experience on this subject and HELLA will contribute "competence in efficient, tried-and-tested imaging software and application development", according to Automotive News Europe. Long term, the companies creating camera systems specifically for when autonomous vehicles start to go mainstream and front cameras are deemed necessary.
ZF and HELLA also hope to improve on their experiences with radar systems. Both are knowledgeable about radar systems, but with different focuses. HELLA typically works on short-range radar for side and rear functions while ZF is more about forward-facing, mid-to-long range radar. This proved that it would be a good idea for the two companies to collaborate as their combined information is essential to creating solid and safe driverless vehicles.
ZF certainly has experience in radars, lidars, and camera workings already. Recently the company has announced investments in technology companies such as Astyx Communication & Sensors GmbH, Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH and French interior supplier Faurecia to help them quickly improve autonomous driving.
The goal for ZF and HELLA along with many other carmakers and tech companies is to have driverless vehicles on the market by 2020. Partnerships like this one are sure to speed up the process and assure consumers that when driverless vehicles are mainstream, they are well tested and have the highest level of technology from all companies.