Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli parts business has made a deal to acquire French company called SmartMeUp, months before Magneti is slated to be spun off into a separate, stand-alone business entity. SmartMeUp produces “perception software” for processing input signals from sensors of the sort used by autonomous vehicles, detecting and identifying objects around the vehicle to construct a 3D environment the self-driving software can understand and track object movement.
SmartMeUp says its own perception software is unique among competing products in that it uses comparatively little computer processing power, meaning less heat generation and thus, making it better suited for use in production cars.
“The acquisition of SmartMeUp, combined with the investment in LiDAR expert LeddarTech and the long established Lighting and Electronics capabilities, strengthens Magneti Marelli’s contribution to autonomous driving development with focus on the sensing and perception components of the architecture,” says Magneti Marelli CEO Pietro Gorlier.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has of course been slower to embrace autonomous-car technology than some of its rivals, although the automaker announced at its 2018 Capital Markets Day presentation in June a new plan to put semi- and fully-autonomous systems on the road over the coming years. The company will start by offering semi-autonomous models as early as next year, on the way to possibly launching a Waymo-powered, fully-autonomous vehicle at retail in 2023.
Former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne reiterated this year the automaker’s resolution to spin off Magneti Marelli into a separate business. FCA has already taken steps to do this, establishing a new unit called “MM Srl” that will incorporate more than a dozen holdings worldwide before being rolled into a holding company in the Netherlands.
Magneti Marelli has operations in 19 countries around the world, and employs some 43k people. It produces parts and systems in the areas of automotive lighting, electronics, powertrains, and more.