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December 15, 2021updated 21 Jan 2022 12:56pm

ZF Acquires a Stake in Apex.AI

Supplier will develop software based on the Apex.OS meta operating system.

By Graeme Roberts

ZF has strengthened its automotive software business by acquiring a 5% stake in the software company Apex.AI. In addition to financial support, ZF will also develop software based on the Apex.OS meta operating system.

“Based on the Apex.OS, we can offer our customers an additional Middleware option,” said Nico Hartmann, head of the ZF Global Software Center.

“This is certified to the highest standards of functional safety for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Thus, we offer our customers an alternative to Autosar Adaptive.”

“We are proud that ZF, as one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, will also offer software based on Apex.OS,” said Jan Becker, CEO of Apex.AI. “We hope that this core software, which is a non-differentiating software for vehicle users, will become a standard in the automotive industry.”

ZF Middleware is an open software platform that acts as a ‘mediator’ between a vehicle computer’s operating system and its software applications. Key functions of the middleware are the abstraction of the computer hardware from software applications and the communication between these applications. The actual software functions, such as autonomous driving functions, can then in turn be built on top of this middleware.

Apex.OS is a meta-operating system derived from the Robot Operation System (ROS), originally developed for robotics applications. Apex.AI has further developed this operating system for the automotive sector and gained ASIL D certification according to ISO 26262 functional safety standard for vehicles. As a result, this core software for high performance automotive computers, including the associated software development kits, is readily available, thereby offering car manufacturers the option of deploying scarce human resources more in other areas that offer significant differentiation for the end customer.

Apex.OS can be used in all types of vehicles, such as passenger cars, robotaxis, shuttles and commercial vehicles, and independent of their level of automation.

Apex.OS is written in new standards of the C++ programming language, which enables a high reusability of individual building blocks. This approach is an alternative communication framework to the Adaptive Autosar standards widely used in the automotive industry. ZF can supply its customers with both approaches, depending on which variant the respective vehicle manufacturer prefers.

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