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Stellantis acquires AiMotive, an autonomous driving software startup

Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks said Thursday it will acquire AiMotive, a startup for artificial intelligence and autonomous driving software.

It's a move, Stellantis NV said in a news release, to accelerate the development of the STLA AutoDrive platform it announced almost a year ago. That technology is said to launch in 2024 and is meant to work with Stellantis' two other software platforms to offer Level 2 and 3 automated driving functions, including hands-free applications.

"Acquiring aiMotive's world-class artificial intelligence and autonomous driving technology is an important contribution to becoming a sustainable mobility tech company," Yves Bonnefont, Stellantis' chief software officer, said in a statement. "AiMotive's class-leading expertise and startup spirit will accelerate our journey to deliver our Dare Forward 2030 goals."

Details of the transaction weren't immediately disclosed, and it's subject to closing conditions and antitrust requirements.

Competitors like General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. already offer hands-free driving opportunities through their advanced Level 2 systems, Super Cruise and BlueCruise, respectively. Stellantis doesn't have a similar technology available on its vehicles at this point, despite expectations for a launch this year.

The Hungarian startup it's acquiring focuses on four areas. It's aiDrive is an embedded software stack for autonomous driving; aiData is artificial intelligence operations and data tooling; aiWare is expertise and intellectual property for silicon microchips; and aiSim is software simulation for development of autonomous driving. The company will continue selling aiData, aiSim and aiWare products to other partners.

The startup also has offices in Germany, the United States and Japan, with more than 200 employees in total. Under Stellantis, it will operate as a subsidiary to maintain operational independence and a nimble culture. Founder László Kishonti will remain as CEO.

 

Clients of the company include Swedish automaker AB Volvo, auto supplier Magna International Inc. and microchip maker Nvidia Corp., according to its website.

Stellantis is seeking increased benefits from software technologies. It expects by 2030 that software-enabled product offerings and subscriptions will represent $22.5 billion in annual revenue. The company is investing $35.5 billion into electrification and software by 2025. It launched Stellantis Ventures with $328 million to identify and support startups that could help it to achieve its goals.

Stellantis shares on the New York Stock Exchange were falling 1.7% to $14.57 following the announcement, more than major indexes.

The acquisition comes after the decisions by Ford and Volkswagen AG last month to pull their investments in AV partner Argo AI, dissolving the company. They instead expected to absorb many of its employees and integrate them with their own teams focused on lower-level automated driving features.

For the most advanced Level 4 and 5 technology, Stellantis has a partnership with Google parent Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC, which is testing robotaxis near Phoenix and San Francisco.

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