Bosch acquires Five and accelerates software development

stuttgart The race for the autonomous car is the most exciting future question in the automotive industry. Only those who are ahead here will make the leap to the digitization of the car. With the acquisition of the British software specialist Five, the world’s largest car supplier Bosch now wants to significantly increase its development speed.

“The acquisition will make us faster in testing the software and we can get vehicles on the road faster,” says Handelsblatt’s Mathias Pillin. He has been head of Bosch’s special autonomous driving division with 17,000 developers since the beginning of 2021. It deals with systems up to the so-called “Level 4”, where the computer takes full control of the car.

Founded six years ago, Five has 140 employees across six UK locations and aims to fill a significant gap at Bosch. The software start-up not only offers engineers programs to create software for autonomous driving, but above all it has a cloud-based development and testing platform for software used in autonomous vehicles.

The contracts with Five were signed in early April. It was agreed not to reveal the details. The founding company Bosch is thus landing a technologically big fish from the European start-up scene. However, antitrust authorities have yet to approve the acquisition.

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Five is “the correct piece of the puzzle”

“Five is very, very fast in data processing, testing, validation, and algorithms. It is the right piece of the puzzle for our development activities,” Pillin emphasizes.

The Bosch manager is also responsible for the hottest project in the German auto industry: 500 developers and a team of the same size from the VW subsidiary Cariad are supposed to bring autonomous driving to “Level 3” on the road, in which The driver can sometimes take his hands off the wheel, for example, when driving on the highway.

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Europe’s largest automaker and the world’s largest car supplier joined forces earlier in the year after months of preparation. It is the latest attempt to create a German solution in autonomous driving.

Volkswagen’s competitors, on the other hand, are increasingly relying on the expertise of American tech groups. For example, Mercedes recently entered into close cooperation with Nvidia, in which the Americans also supply extensive software packages for their chips. With Qualcomm, BMW is also relying on a chip designer with roots in the mobile world.

US corporations are becoming increasingly important and are threatening the supremacy of major auto suppliers like Bosch, ZF and Continental. “In the end, it will be about who offers the best software modules at the best cost. In any case, our software runs on all chips,” said Pillin. In the past, Bosch managed the start-up of all vehicles.

>> Read also: Impending loss of status: how Germany’s auto suppliers are fighting for their future business

The Five startup company that has now taken over does not directly enter into the cooperation with Cariad, but indirectly strengthens Bosch’s position. The Swabians also started a cooperation with VW earlier in the year to gain access to Volkswagen’s driving data.

train artificial intelligence

Vehicles collect data with their sensors, which is processed in the development department and fed back to the vehicle. This is used to train the algorithms. This perfects the artificial intelligence in the vehicle. This is how the vehicle learns the driving situation.

Five’s technology platform should at least allow Bosch to carry out some of the tasks more quickly and precisely than before, also in the project with VW. After the merger, the partners had already indicated that, if successful, the partnership could be extended to level 4.

bosch development

Automated driving will become the center of attention.

(Photo: Bosch)

Volkswagen wants to offer this high level of automation in the next generation of electric cars. The automaker is currently developing the successor models of the ID series under the project name “Trinity”. VW boss Herbert Diess stressed that the Level 4 capability of Trinity vehicles should make automated driving accessible to a wide range of customers. VW sees the sale of automated driving features as an important source of future revenue. The Trinity model series is scheduled to be introduced from 2026.

“When developing automated driving, size also matters,” emphasized Five CEO Stan Boland. Bosch is one of the world’s leading providers of driver assistance and has key technologies and large amounts of data that are essential for the market launch of safe autonomous driving systems, the CEO explains his decision in favor of the Swabian founding group .
Collaboration: Roman Tyborski

Plus: Bosch chief warns against German withdrawal of Russian gas supply

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