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Several companies in the automotive value chain have invested a significant sum into software startup Apex.AI (Palo Alto, Calif, and Munich, Germany). What the company is developing has the potential to become a de facto standard in the car industry: An operating system with safety certification. Some even talk of it replacing Autosar Adaptive.

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Apex.AI develops safety-certified software for mobility and autonomous applications – it has a product that, based on the widespread robotics operating system ROS, has been adapted for automotive requirements – which is tougher real-time behaviour and higher resilience, a spokesperson explained. With these adaptations, ApexOS has been certified to ASIL D, the highest safety level in the ISO 26262 universe.

The company now announced today that it has raised $56.5 million in a Series B fundraising round, significantly adding to its total of $74 million raised to date. The round included new participation from Airbus, Continental, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and ZF. This adds to investments previously announced from Volvo Group Venture Capital, Toyota Ventures, and Hella Ventures. Notably absent is Bosch who, according to sources, is pursuing a different strtategy.

Covers all development phases, all applications – this is why its creators call ApexOS a “Meta OS”

Launched in 2017, the software developer has shown significant progress in 2021, having announced Apex.OS – something the developers call meta-operating system. This is owed to the fact that the product is not simply an core operating system for high-performance automotive computers, but instead includes the related development tools and development kits. Thus, it offers OEMs the option of deploying scarce human resources in other areas that offer significant differentiation for the end customer, the company says. The software is used today in “most prototypes of autonomous vehicles around the world,” the spokesperson explained. He was unable to disclose the names of the customers, with one exception: Toyota does run the software in a pre-series vehicle.

Apex.AI’s Palo Alto office is a Silicon Valley Historical Landmark and the former Fairchild building where Dr. Robert Noyce invented the first commercially integrated circuit inside small silicon chips in 1959. The CEO and co-founder, Jan Becker, comes from Bosch and later was involved in the development of the winning vehicle for the Darpa autonomous driving challenge, the spokesperson explained. “Disruptions in mobility such as self-driving, connected vehicles, e-mobility, and shared mobility all rely on software but lack a unified platform, which prevents integrated development across the vehicle,” Jan Becker said in a release. “We introduced Apex.OS as the first mobility software platform that can integrate across all in-vehicle domains and extend into the cloud to solve this challenge.”

The startup company will use the funds to scale its business and expand into markets adjacent to the automotive industry including agriculture, mining, industrial automation, and IoT (Internet of Things). The company will hire across all of its four global offices, more than doubling its team. As part of this growth, the company will expand into Asia, which will be led by former Panasonic executive Tavis Szeto, Vice President of Asia-Pacific (APAC).

Continental said in another release that it has an undisclosed amount into Apex.AI, because of the great importance of software for future vehicle generations. “The complexity of vehicle software and electronics architectures is increasing rapidly, and the number of digital functionalities is rising”, said Frank Pelznick, head of Continental’s ADAS business. “The automobile is indeed becoming more and more like a smartphone on wheels, where the development of hardware and software is increasingly independent of each other and significantly accelerated. With the help of the already certified meta operating system Apex.OS, we will significantly shorten the development cycles of new mobility functions, especially for automated and autonomous driving, in line with the highest safety standards.”

ZF says it acquired a 5% stake in Apex.AI to speed up its software business. In addition to the financial participation, the company plans to develop its own software solutions based on the Apex.OS. “Based on this meta-operating system, we can offer our customers an additional option of our ZF Middleware,” says Nico Hartmann, Head of ZF Global Software Center. “This solution allows us to offer our customers an alternative to Autosar Adaptive.”

Apex.OS is written in the C++ programming language, which enables the high reusability of individual building blocks. This approach is an alternative communication framework to the Autosar Adaptive standards widely used in the automotive industry. ZF can supply its customers with both approaches, depending on which variant its customers prefer.

www.apex.ai

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