Continental Acquires ASL Vision

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany /PRNewswire/ -- The international automotive supplier Continental Automotive announced the acquisition of ASL Vision, based in Lewes, England. The companies agreed not to disclose the price for the acquisition. "Continental is one of the world's leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems, which warn, support, and assist drivers in many driving situations by detecting the vehicle's surroundings via camera, infrared, and/or radar. "With this step, we are enhancing our technology portfolio by adding a strategically important building block, 360° surround detection, while at the same time further developing our competence in the camera sector in a targeted way," said Friedrich Angerbauer, Head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit in the Continental Chassis & Safety Division.

"Surround view" systems optimally detect the vehicle's entire surrounding and are an excellent addition to the ContiGuard safety concept. ContiGuard integrates active and passive safety systems, which will become even more effective and comprehensive through surrounding sensors and their coordinated interactions. In particular, the fusion of radar and camera will allow new and expanded features, and it is an important prerequisite for implementing automated driving. "By acquiring ASL Vision, we are accelerating the existing growth activities in the area of advanced driver assistance systems. 'Surround view' will also allow us to safely master complex traffic situations, such as lane changes, passing other cars, and challenging parking circumstances," said Dr. Ralf Cramer, member of the board of Continental AG and President of the Continental Chassis & Safety Division.

"Surround View" Camera Systems
As a general rule, a "surround view" system consists of three to five cameras, as well as an electronic processing unit. ASL Vision offers a range of technological solutions. One is a camera system like those already available in the passenger vehicle sector, with a display feature for the camera images on the dashboard that is overlaid with intelligent displays such as the vehicle trajectory display when driving backward. ASL Vision also has a successful system that was developed especially for the aftermarket and is already in use in the industrial sector and in mining, for instance. In the future, Continental will work on and further develop intelligent "surround view" systems with features such as free-space and object recognition, as well as reading curb edges for highly precise parking.

At its headquarters in Lewes, England, as well at its German site in Kronach, Bavaria, ASL Vision has a total of 53 employees, primarily engineers, who specialize in the areas of software, algorithms, image processing, and hardware. All of these employees will join Continental, and the company is planning to add further engineers both in England and Germany for these technology areas. The Lewes site will combine the competences in the areas of systems, software, and algorithms for "surround view." At the same time, the research and development center in Ulm will become an additional site for 360° camera systems. In the future, the site will work on issues such as hardware, cameras, and application projects.

"To facilitate rapid growth in the automotive market, to harness creativity, and to bring innovations successfully into volume series production, close cooperation with leading automotive suppliers is essential. Continental provides the ideal environment for this," said Ian Saward, the current and future joint Managing Director of ASL Vision. In addition to Saward, Wolfgang Fey, head of the newly created "Surround View" segment within the ADAS Business Unit at Continental, will also become joint Managing Director at ASL Vision. "With the highly qualified ASL Vision employees and their many years of automotive experience as well as their high quality standards, we are gaining experts in their field. The products have already been in series production with vehicle manufacturers for several years, so we are taking over an ambitious but also experienced and highly motivated company," said Fey.

With sales of €30.5 billion in 2011, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 170,000 employees in 46 countries.

The Automotive Group with its three divisions Chassis & Safety (sales of approximately €6.5 billion in 2011, 33,000 employees), Powertrain (sales of approximately €5.8 billion in 2011, 31,000 employees) and Interior (sales of approximately €6.1 billion in 2011, 32,000 employees) achieved sales of approximately €18.5 billion in 2011. The Automotive Group is present in more than 170 locations worldwide. As a partner of the automotive and commercial vehicle industry, it develops and produces innovative products and systems for a modern automotive future, in which cars provide individual mobility and driving pleasure consistent with driving safety, environmental responsibility and cost-efficiency.

The Chassis & Safety Division develops and produces electronic and hydraulic brake and chassis control systems, sensors, driver assistance systems, airbag electronics and sensorics, washer systems, and electronic air suspension systems. Its core competence is the integration of active and passive driving safety into ContiGuard. The Powertrain Division integrates innovative and efficient system solutions for vehicle powertrains. The comprehensive range of products includes gasoline and diesel injection systems, engine management, transmission control, including sensors and actuators, as well as fuel-supply systems and components and systems for hybrid and electric drives. Information management is at the very heart of the Interior Division, which provides a range of products that includes instrument clusters and multifunctional displays, control units, electronic car-entry systems, tire-monitoring systems, radios, multimedia and navigation systems, climate control systems, telematics solutions and cockpit modules and systems.