German Regulator OKs Cooperation For VW & Bosch

The Bundeskartellamt will not initiate a proceeding against a planned development cooperation between Robert Bosch GmbH and Volkswagen AG to advance automated driving. 

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “Automated driving is one of the most exciting future-related topics in the automotive industry. We are currently seeing various players racing to find the most innovative solutions in research on this future technology. It is the Bundeskartellamt’s task to maintain competition even at the research and development level since this is where the foundations for future products and markets are laid.”

The cooperation between the two companies is intended to develop a joint software solution in the area of semi-automated driving. The companies are planning to develop a so-called 360° video perception software which centrally combines the signals and data from numerous cameras, radars and sensors and processes them using artificial intelligence. The software is to be used primarily in Volkswagen’s vehicles, but will also be available to other automobile manufacturers.

As automotive supplier, Bosch will contribute its previously gained expertise in developing automated driving systems to the project. As automobile manufacturer, VW has a large fleet of vehicles via which mass data necessary to develop the planned software can be gathered continuously and in real time.

The cooperation in question is established for research and development (R&D) purposes and therefore has to be examined under the European R&D Block Exemption Regulation. According to this regulation, cooperations in research and development are exempted from the ban on cartels under certain conditions. Decisive factors for this are the stage of the research, the extent to which competing R&D poles of other competitors still exist, and the cooperation partners’ market positions. In the present case, it had to be taken into consideration that the planned software would mainly be used in VW’s own vehicles. In addition to the cooperation partners, numerous other companies in the automotive industry as well as globally active IT companies are also researching and developing competing solutions, investing significant sums and resources and often cooperating internationally. This applies to the development of both entire driving systems and individual software components necessary for automated driving systems.

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