Valeo joins self-driving race

Valeo plans to draw on drone software and other military technologies from partner Safran to offer self-driving vehicle platforms to vehicle manufacturers by the end of the decade, Reuters has reported.

While demonstrating an autonomous car and other prototype systems jointly developed with Safran, the French defence and aerospace group, Valeo said on Friday the first applications may reach vehicle manufacturer clients within three years.

Under a 2013 research and development agreement, the Paris-based companies are collaborating on self-driving systems with final applications ranging from hatchbacks to unmanned aircraft.

‘We realised very quickly that we had much more in common than we’d expected,’ Valeo innovation chief Guillaume Devauchelle told Reuters. ‘It turns out that an autonomous vehicle is really a terrestrial drone.’

Safran is now offering to equip armoured vehicles with 360-degree camera software developed by Valeo as a parking aid, the companies said.

Valeo-equipped self-driving cars will draw on infrared imaging, algorithms and ‘dynamic mapping’ used in Patroller drones and other Safran hardware.

The joint research and development push has yielded ‘an absolute outpouring of ideas,’ the Valeo CEO said. ‘Within a fairly short space of time you’ll be seeing a lot of Safran technology in car (equipped by) Valeo, and plenty of Valeo in Safran aerospace and security products.’