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Hexagon acquires AutonomouStuff for autonomous vehicle solutions

June 4, 2018  - By

Hexagon AB has acquired AutonomouStuff, a supplier of integrated autonomous vehicle solutions.

Founded in 2010, U.S.-based AutonomouStuff is developing turnkey platforms for autonomous vehicle development, robotics and data intelligence innovation. Its turnkey platforms are deployed in pilot programs worldwide representing more than 2,500 customers in the automotive and technology sectors across Silicon Valley, America, Europe and Asia.

“The acquisition of AutonomouStuff accelerates Hexagon’s ability to move our customers beyond the data impasse of IoT [internet of things],” said Ola Rollén, Hexagon President and CEO. “We’re particularly interested in technologies that are the most disruptive — those capable of leveraging the vast potential of data being generated by connected things, integrating AI [artificial intelligence], edge-cloud orchestration, mobility and data visualization into autonomous connected ecosystems. When combined with our positioning intelligence, mapping and sensing technology leadership, this acquisition creates a nexus of domain expertise that will lead the autonomous mobility industry for years to come.”

AutonomouStuff began when CEO Bobby Hambrick realized that robotics company representatives were having difficulty gaining access to the technology needed to solve their applications, according to the company. He envisioned a place where they could find the products needed to get their projects up and running. It is headquartered in Morton, Illinois, with offices in San Francisco, Detroit, Germany and China.

AutonomouStuff has been closely involved in Project Apollo, an autonomous driving ecosystem helmed by Baidu, the so-called “Google of China.”

Project Apollo seeks to provide an open, comprehensive and reliable software platform for Baidu’s partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industries. Partners can use the Apollo open software platform together with the reference hardware platform to accelerate development of their customized autonomous vehicle solutions.

AutonomouStuff provides the Apollo Kit to project partners: the hardware, software and services required to begin developing their own autonomous vehicle. NovAtel SPAN GNSS/INS products provide position, orientation and time as a critical component of this kit. A detailed description of the NovAtel (another Hexagon company in the Positioning Intelligence Group) and AutonomouStuff partnership is given in the August 2017 cover story of GPS World, “Autonomy assembled: Driverless kits to hit the road in 2020.”

At a Baidu conference in Beijing, April 2017, AutonomouStuff kitted out two standard Lincoln MKZ sedans for demonstration drives, with one technician completing each vehicle in about three hours — a task that would normally take a team of workers up to six weeks. The two Lincolns then drove simultaneously, driverless, around a test track.

The technology has been developed to be transferrable to other vehicles. Each car is modified by adding lasers, camera, radar sensors, GPS and inertial measurement unit (IMU), a drive-by-wire computer interface and computer engine.

As of August 2017, the kit incorporated a choice, depending on user needs, of a selection of NovAtel GNSS receivers, including the ProPak6 GNSS receiver and the SPAN-IGM-A1 GNSS+IMU combined system, IMUs such as the IMU-ISA-100C incorporating Northrop-Grumman Litef GMBH’s inertial measurement technology, and antennas such as the GNSS-703-GGG-HV high vibration triple-frequency GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo antenna. A 64-beam Velodyne lidar sensor and 16-beam HDL-16E provide laser data. Some units may have changed since then.

Terry Lamprecht, director of products at AutonomouStuff, gave a presentation on verifying proper installation, and creating a baseline data set to benchmark against data collected on autonomous vehicles in real-time, as part of a November 2017 GPS World webinar, “High Accuracy for Autonomous Driving.” Download the free webinar here.

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, including a voluntary filing to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and other customary conditions that are expected to be satisfied within the next 90 days.