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Continental’s Hungarian R&D Hubs Drive Cars Towards Safer Future

Automotive

Illustrative photo by metamorworks / Shutterstock.com

Continental Hungary is at the forefront of efforts to make driving safer, with several operations nationwide offering artificial intelligence-fueled software and technological solutions and developments for sensors and brake systems. The company tells the Budapest Business Journal about the state-of-the-art solutions its Hungarian hubs are putting out, contributing to the future of autonomous vehicles and safer driving in general.

The Hungarian capital, indeed, the whole country, has long been hailed as a good location in the region for technological development. For this reason, Hungary has become a center for automotive companies in developing and manufacturing solutions for the industry. Based in Budapest, Continental’s Artificial Intelligence Development Center is developing next-generation automotive software solutions to make automated driving safe and affordable.

“Budapest is a good location for an AI development center given the considerable local academic research, a well-developed AI community, and several start-ups. For that very reason, Continental Autonomous Mobility Hungary, with the Artificial Intelligence Development Center, is based in Budapest,” Continental tells the BBJ.

The capital itself is an attractive metropolis, a suitable work location for global information technology experts “thanks to its reasonably-priced yet good-quality living conditions and its proximity to other European countries,” the firm adds.

Beyond the borders of the capital, Continental Autonomous Mobility Hungary has operations in two of the leading provincial cities: Debrecen (232 km east of Budapest by road) and Szeged (some 175 km to the southeast). Both locations opened in 2022, as Continental wanted to be close to the vibrant local software engineer professional community and the high-quality local university education available in each city.

“Our teams at Continental Autonomous Mobility Hungary have accumulated extensive knowledge in artificial intelligence. Along with so many important professional fields, like embedded development, data management, and infrastructure development, we work together to support the development of AI- and software-based solutions in Continental Autonomous Mobility business area,” the company says.

Vesprém R&D

In the research and development hub in Veszprém, some 115 km southwest of the capital, Continental develops and manufactures intelligent battery sensors, chassis position sensors, wheel speed sensors, and engine and transmission sensors.

“Generally speaking, we develop for a global market, so collaboration with other locations is almost always necessary, and it is very beneficial for the learning opportunities of our colleagues. We have a major role in the FPS [Future Break System] 2 semi-dry brake system, which is coming to the market for the first time. This will be developed by us in Hungary,” Continental adds.

With the adoption of OpenAI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) multimodal large language model in the form of Chat GPT, both the business community and the general public have recently lifted artificial intelligence into public dialogue to an extent never seen before.

However, AI solutions have been around in almost every industry for a while, even if under the hood. AI has already made vehicles much more reliable and safer in the last decade, and this trend continues with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). This technology is becoming mainstream and more affordable.

“Nowadays, AI is used to understand and model the environment around vehicles with superhuman precision and detail, making even more automated systems possible, like automated garage parking, highway pilots or even fully autonomous systems like truck service,” Continental explains.

People’s relationships with their cars are changing. Autos are being shaped by new possibilities with AI, such as augmented reality-based head-up displays, interior monitoring that reminds people when they leave their child or a valuable object behind, and smoother conversational AI systems running navigation or entertainment systems in vehicles. In the case of the most recent technology Continental is working on, these systems can notify owners if the car’s environment is becoming hostile, for example, too hot fora child waiting in the vehicle.

Ambitious Goal

One of Continental’s objectives, Vision Zero, placed an ambitious goal in its crosshairs. The aim is to eliminate fatal accidents happening every day on the roads. The automotive giant works with creative, passionate minds willing to shape the future of driving by delivering perception and fusion systems to aid unmanned driving.

“Our long-term goal, Vision Zero, envisions a world without traffic accidents, and it is an ongoing process. All the technologies we introduce to the roads are designed to minimize driver distraction and provide the most accurate environmental perception possible. Safety is non-negotiable for us, and saving lives is our primary dedication,” the firm adds.

Continental says its safety solutions meet the needs of customers and aim to provide industry-leading solutions for a sustainable world.

“With each safer solution we introduce to the roads, we are one step closer to achieving Vision Zero, day by day,” it insists.

With increased digitalization, however, comes the threat of security breaches. Experts have been working on safeguards to ensure these connected applications do not allow hackers to take over cars and remotely control them without owners’ consent. In June 2020, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe passed UNECE R155, a resolution calling on automakers to implement measures to prevent, detect and respond to attacks throughout a vehicle’s lifetime.

“Therefore, there is no connected mobility without the right security approach: Continental, together with Elektrobit and Argus Cyber Security, offer multilayered, end-to-end solutions to ensure maximum cyber security for vehicles throughout their service life along the lines ‘Prevent, Understand, Respond.’ All our solutions enable our customers to fulfill the requirements of the UNECE regulation, which calls for security monitoring, and more,” Continental argues.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 19, 2023.

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