Continental goes Silicon Valley, grabs Google guru

August 18, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In the search for the individual mobility of the future, automotive supplier Continental AG has planted an offshoot in the Silicon Valley. The company's new Intelligent Transportation Systems business unit will be headed by Seval Oz - the expert for vehicle networking was instrumental in Google's Self Driving Car project.

The launch of an entity focusing on the superset of IT and automotive technology is in line with Continental's strategy to make cars an integral part of the Internet of Things, the company said in a statement. Goals of utilising information technology in the automotive context are reducing the number of accidents (to zero, if possible), reduce energy consumption and maximize the comfort for drivers and passengers. A significant building block towards this end is enabling vehicles to automatically communicate with each other.

Continental's Silicon Valley team will devise innovative technologies and solutions that can only be achieved by combining critical ingredients such as the knowledge and ingenuity of leading experts and the digital technologies generated in the Silicon Valley, said Continental CEO Elmar Degenhardt. Continental plans to blend this plethora of digital technologies with the company's own expertise in high-volume automotive technology. He added that the intelligent interconnection of vehicles and transport infrastructure is an essential part of this plan and this interconnection will be all-embracing and intelligent.

From Google to Continental: Seval Oz will oversee Continental's Silicon Valley activities. Oz was involved in Google's Self Driviing Car developments as Senior Business Development Manager.

The new offshoot is said to open a broad range of business opportunities for the Hannover, Germany based automotive supplier, said Helmut Matschi, general manager of Continental's Interior division to which the new business unit will belong. The company chose the Silicon Valley as the seat of its new business unit because "in this region we find everything we need to complement our expertise with regards to technologies for Connected Cars as well as Intelligent Transport Systems," Matschi said. Oz hinted that her task at Continental ITS will be creating partnerships and collaboration with technology companies based in that region.

The information technologies Continental is looking for include cloud-based computing for real-time traffic management as well as applications for intermodal travelling and fleet management. The