German automotive supplier Schaeffler is acquiring drive-by-wire technology Space Drive from Paravan GmbH. Schaeffler said on this will play a key role in self-driving cars.
The Schaeffler Group, in cooperation with Roland Arnold and Paravan GmbH, have agreed on a master agreement for the formation of a joint venture company. The transaction is pending regulatory approval by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.
The parties have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the deal. The object of the joint venture company, which will be called Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH und Co. KG, is the further development of Paravan’s SPACE DRIVE drive-by-wire technology and the development and sale of mobility systems.
Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG will have a 90% stake in the new company. A leading drive-by-wire technology, SPACE DRIVE was developed by Paravan GmbH to help drivers with physical disabilities by replacing cumbersome mechanical vehicle control systems with 100%-reliable, fully electronic systems.
No wheel, no problem
Alongside electronic accelerator and brake activation, SPACE DRIVE features steer-by-wire functionality, which enables safe and reliable vehicle steering by purely electronic means, thereby eliminating the need for a steering wheel, steering column and associated mechanical linkages.
Steer-by-wire is a key enabling technology for self-driving cars, for which safe and highly reliable steering is a fundamental requirement. Even in part-time autonomous passenger cars with steering wheels, the space saved by eliminating the steering column opens up completely new possibilities for vehicle and cab interior design. SPACE DRIVE features triple redundancy and is currently the only integrated drive-by-wire solution in the world to be manufactured in accordance with the highest quality and safety standards including certification according to the extremely exacting ISO 26262 ASIL D functional safety standard.
Consequently, is the only system of its kind to be licensed for on-road use in multiple countries worldwide, while at the same time having the potential for technical and commercial viability in large-series automobile production. SPACE DRIVE also has an unblemished record of over 500 million kilometers of accident-free driving.
The new joint venture company will have its operational headquarters in Aichelau and Herzogenaurach and will be headed by a team comprising Paravan founder Roland Arnold as CEO, and Dr. Dirk Kesselgruber, head of the business division Chassis Systems at Schaeffler, and one other, yet-to-be-decided, employee of the Schaeffler Group.
“We are both delighted and immensely proud to have on board such a competent and successful partner as Mr. Arnold for this pioneering collaboration,” commented Schaeffler AG Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer Prof. Dr. Peter Gutzmer. “Today’s agreement is a major milestone for Schaeffler. The acquisition of this tried and proven drive-by-wire technology gives us access to a key technology that will enable us to develop our Chassis Systems business division into a chassis systems integrator. The rolling chassis business is a decisive opportunity for Schaeffler to leverage its core competencies to gain a technological foothold in the fast-growing autonomous car market helping to further diversify our powertrain and chassis businesses. Today’s deal is therefore another major step towards achieving our ‘Mobility for tomorrow’ strategy.”
The SPACE DRIVE technology and the associated core competencies in functional safety through high-reliability electronics complement Schaeffler’s core competencies in mechatronics and will accelerate the development of future by-wire steering systems by strengthening expertise in key areas, particularly systems engineering, electronics and functional software.
Under the deal, the Schaeffler Group will contribute its Schaeffer Mover technology to the joint venture, where it will play a pivotal role. Schaeffler Mover is a concept for a small and highly versatile rolling chassis that is fully electric and can be combined with various body versions to support a range of different urban mobility and transport applications. Schaeffler unveiled the Mover concept to the public for the first time at its 2018 Annual General Meeting.
Dr. Dirk Kesselgruber said: “The Schaeffler Mover concept demonstrates our commitment to being an innovative partner for mechatronic chassis systems and to further growing this capability and thereby positioning ourselves in the medium term as a leading provider of rolling chassis systems. The Schaeffler Mover is primarily a platform for developing and industrializing future products for auto manufacturers. We see SPACE DRIVE as a functionally safe and reliable foundation for these products, and we will therefore actively pursue its systematic and customer-centric further development and refinement under the joint venture. Indeed, in the future we may even develop entire vehicle platforms for logistics and service companies.”
“Schaeffler is the perfect partner for further developing, scaling and industrializing our unique SPACE DRIVE technology,” said Roland Arnold. “The company has technical expertise in a wide range of areas, particularly in the highly promising areas of mechatronics and mechanical actuator systems. Just as important, in my view, is the fact that our two companies are a good cultural fit. As family-owned businesses, we have a similar outlook. This is a win for both companies. Like Schaeffler, Paravan GmbH and its customers will benefit from the partnership we have forged here today.”