ZF closes technology gap, buys lidar company

August 03, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The automotive supplier ZF AG has acquired a 40% stake in Hamburg (Germany) based Ibeo Automotive Systems. With the move, ZF intends to participate in Ibeo’s substantial expertise in the field of Lidar technology and environment recognition algorithms. Both assets are important building blocks for autonomous driving.

According to ZF CEO Stefan Sommer, the company intends to expand its sensor potfolio of radar and camera technologies. Together with ZF, Ibeo will make the next technological leap and a significant step for vehicle applications: The lidar generation developed in cooperation with ZF will reproduce a three-dimensional image of the environment without the rotating mirrors contained in current lidar systems. The automotive supplier announced that the cooperation would devise more compact and more affordable lidar systems.

“To equip cars with senses and intelligence, we will gradually fill the gaps in our technology portfolio”, Sommer explained the motivation for investing into Ibeo.  “With lidar and sensor fusion we are strengthening the eye and brain of future vehicle generations and get closer to our vision of zero accidents”.

ZF’s investment will provide Ibeo with the funding for further growth. The company currently employs some 50 engineers and technicians and is expected to quintuple its headcount in the mean term. Under the auspice of ZF, Ibeo plans to establish an Autonomous Driving Competence Center, aiming at developing solutions for highly automated driving.