Bosch Acquires Self-Driving Company Five AI
Bosch has bolstered its self-driving armory by acquiring British software company Five AI for an undisclosed amount.
In a statement released from its headquarters in Stuttgart, Bosch described the Cambridge-based firm as “Europe’s leading start-up in the field of automated driving” and said it had beaten other takeover bidders for the purchase.
The acquisition, which is still subject to approval by antitrust authorities, should take around two months to complete and will see Bosch absorb Five AI’s intellectual property and 140 employees.
Five AI arrived on the scene in 2016 and has carved out a reputation as an expert in cloud software, safety assurance, robotics and machine learning, developing AI-based solutions for autonomous driving. Of late, it has focused particularly on a cloud-based development and testing platform for the software used in self-driving cars. This allows the creation of advanced testing scenarios and the construction of comprehensive simulation environments.
In 2019, it was a key player in the U.K. government-backed Streetwise project, an initiative designed to demonstrate that autonomous tech was advanced enough to use in urban environments and described at the time as “the most complex AV trials completed publicly in Europe.” The company has acquired nearly $80 million in funding since its launch.
For Bosch, the purchase marks another significant step on what has become an increasingly interesting autonomous journey in recent years.
In 2017, it announced a partnership with automotive company Daimler (owner of Mercedes), with the pair suggesting fully autonomous cars could be on the road by the start of the 2020s.
That prediction has yet to be realized, but Mercedes and Bosch did recently showcase one area they have been focusing on with a demonstration of automated valet parking tech at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel in California.
And in, 2019 Bosch revealed one potential vision of its thinking when it unveiled its Internet of Things driverless shuttle at CES in Las Vegas, which highlighted its ability to contribute at every level of the self-driving revolution, including supply of components, systems and connectivity platforms as well as parking and recharging services.
Bosch also recently acquired Atlatec, a specialist in the field of high-resolution digital maps, and highlighted how the deal meant it would be the only company able to offer customers all the building blocks of automated driving from a single source.
The Five AI deal will see the companies’ software teams merged into a single unit.
“Five is the perfect fit for our engineering activities,” Dr. Mathias Pillin, president of the Bosch Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. This brings us closer to our aim of getting safe automated driving onto our roads.”
Stan Boland, CEO of Five AI, added, “Scale matters in building automated driving technology. Bosch is a global leader in driving assistance technologies, with core technologies and vast data lakes that will be essential in bringing safe self-driving systems to market. We’re excited for Five to become part of Europe’s most powerful SAE Level 4 player and to be a part of Bosch’s future success.”