Continental and EasyMile Inaugurate New Autonomous Driving R&D Team in Singapore

A joint R&D team from Continental and EasyMile will commence work on solutions for driverless mobility at the Singapore corporate building. Headquartered in Toulouse, EasyMile is a pioneer in the development of autonomous vehicle solutions. The new joint team’s work focus will be to develop new technology centered on perception and deep learning and to prepare autonomous vehicle (AV) technology for tests towards safe deployments on private grounds and public roads in the Singaporean metro area. During the inauguration of the R&D initiative and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the guests can already get a preview towards driverless mobility by riding the electrically powered Continental Urban Mobility Experience development platform, powered by EasyMile software.

The Republic of Singapore is a highly innovative city-state and a strong economical focal point within the whole Asia region. With a regulatory sandbox for AVs in place, Singapore has the flexibility to quickly adjust its regulatory framework to support the fast pace of development of AV technology while safeguarding public safety. Autonomous systems feature prominently in its plans to improve the transport system in Singapore. AVs, in particular, are seen to have the potential to enhance first- and last-mile connectivity between peoples’ homes and nearby public transport nodes.

In order to move the field forward, Singapore is engaging in intensive dialogue with leading industrial companies to develop driverless solutions as soon as possible to complement and maintain efficient urban mobility.

“Our Singapore location is one of our largest R&D locations in Asia already. Its position is strategic as Singapore is one of Asia’s four tigers, and an important financial and trade center”, says Ralph Lauxmann, head of Systems & Technology, member of the Chassis & Safety management board, and head of the Automated Driving project house at Continental. “With the joint autonomous driving R&D team we have expanded the network of our Automated Driving project house by another important location. Together with EasyMile we are proud to prepare a contribution to the Singapore Smart City Initiative. It is a privilege for our AV team to be part of this journey into the future. The results can be used as a blueprint for the deployment of driverless systems also in other regions of the world.”

Gilbert Gagnaire, CEO of EasyMile SAS, confirmed during the inauguration: “I am delighted to further extend the already deep collaboration between Continental and EasyMile. For the past four years, EasyMile has demonstrated its leadership in deploying reliable and safe autonomous systems. Continental and EasyMile joint R&D team in Singapore is an important step to accelerate the development of new technology for global markets as well as to benefit of the advance and dynamism of Singapore’s autonomous driving ecosystem to further test our products.” 

Self-driving cars will be an integral part of smart cities

With the signing of the MoU and the team inauguration, EasyMile and Continental are expanding an established and successful cooperation that began in 2017, when Continental became a minority shareholder and partner of the French company. “Once our new R&D team is up and running, its long-term perspective is to ready an AV based on Continental and EasyMile’s global expertise for the roads of Singapore and to shape safe driverless solutions”, says Kien Foh Lo, Managing Director of Continental Automotive Singapore. “Intelligent transportation systems are one of our established business pillars in Singapore. We are building on that strength by adding another focus to our strong R&D,” Kien Foh Lo adds.

The MoU between Continental and EasyMile is also a stepping stone in a structured approach to AV testing on public roads in Singapore. The city already has a test center for AVs located in Jurong Innovation District and there are on-going AV trials being conducted at one-north and Sentosa. Singapore has also identified three towns for pilot deployment of AVs for public transport by the early 2020s. The pilot deployment will provide insights on development of AVs at town scale to benefit commuters, especially in enhancing first- and last-mile connectivity.

Tan Kong Hwee, Executive Director of Transport Engineering, Economic Development Board (EDB) Singapore said during the ceremony: “We welcome Continental and Easymile’s decision to build autonomous vehicle R&D capabilities in Singapore. The two companies’ joint decision underscores Singapore’s attractiveness as a location to develop, test and commercialize new AV technologies.”

With already more than 1,300 staff, Singapore is one of Continental’s global R&D powerhouses. Now, the recently expanded building will gain further importance within the company’s network of global research & development (R&D). The first presentation and test operation of the Continental Urban Mobility Experience development platform at the Continental Frankfurt location was in 2017. Further testings followed at the Continental Auburn Hills location in the USA (MI). To further expand Continental’s global expertise in driverless vehicles, another vehicle was brought to Japan to find out specific Japanese requirements for local development of driverless mobility systems.

EasyMile has been based in Singapore since its creation in 2014 with the local R&D team dedicated to Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence. EasyMile’s very first commercial application of the EZ10 flagship autonomous vehicle was at the heart of Singapore in Gardens by the Bay in 2016. Today, EasyMile is the worldwide leader in terms of deployment of autonomous shuttles with over 210 driverless projects in 24 countries.

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