Expert Talks: Interview with Georg Kopetz

Embark on the automated driving journey – making the most of your time

Picture of Georg Kopetz

Georg Kopetz

Not even a full year has passed since the foundation of TTTech Auto. It was created by concentrating TTTech Group’s successful automotive business unit together with RT-RK Automotive and now Silicon Gears in one global entity. TTTech Auto has set out on the journey to support OEMs in achieving the highest levels of automation by delivering safety software platforms and allowing for the seamless shift towards future mobility concepts. We have asked Georg Kopetz, CEO at TTTech Auto, to look back on the journey so far and illustrate the exciting milestones ahead.

What was TTTech Auto’s motivation to tackle safety, the most critical topic within the area of automated driving?

Georg Kopetz: Safety in aerospace and the automotive industry has always been a clear focus for TTTech Group. When we established TTTech more than 20 years ago, we already started our business with delivering safety solutions for these two transportation markets. Therefore, the automotive business unit that eventually became the core of TTTech Auto, has been part of these technological developments for two decades. It has always been our vision to build a bridge to the automotive mass market with the highly innovative aerospace and space networking technology we pioneered and to transfer our profound experience and safety know-how from that background.

Fast-forward 20 years and we find the automotive industry at a very exciting turning point, transforming itself into a mobility and software driven industry, where people will have the possibility to consume mobility as a service upon subscription, rather than having to purchase a car as the sole option. Of course, there will still be many private and corporate car buyers in the future, but we will see more alternative business models emerging as well. This will allow people to harness the time they would have spent driving on more creative or value-added activities. Time has an extremely high value, and therefore we want to enable this shift from automation to full autonomy and allow users to be transferred to the fully autonomous world by TTTech Auto in a safe and reliable way.

How did you approach the quest to become a safety expert in the field of automated driving?

Georg Kopetz: In order to be recognized and successful on a global scale, a company must ensure differentiation from other players on that market and offer a highly unique value in terms of competitive capabilities. There are many companies developing complete software stacks for automation, sensors, testing systems, and so on. We believe that the safety topic is one of the most overlooked, yet the most critical aspect of automated driving. Profound experience and know-how gained from basic academic research as well as the aerospace and space industry have allowed us to build it into our core competence. All these unique capabilities made TTTech Auto a “born global” safety and real-time expert. Thus, we won the trust of many important automotive customers worldwide. We see ourselves as a safety champion, moreover a neutral software player in the industry, providing the ASIL D compliant safety software platform MotionWise. Supported by the ongoing development of the Safety Co-Pilot functionality, we are creating an end-to-end safety approach, with which we are confident we can help shape the industry.

What would be the next steps in this industry transformation?

Georg Kopetz: This new era of mobility will rely on new computerized control systems, which will replace the driver step by step and put quasi a virtual co-pilot in the cars. The role of safety here is vital: if you have to rely on a computer system as a virtual driver, you want it to be safe and secure without compromise. TTTech Auto focuses on safety, but also on how to make those safety systems secure. Hence, we are building highly trustworthy, deterministic computing systems for the smart interlinking of sensors, processing and actuators, bringing the highest safety levels to the market.

Are there any other critical challenges comparable to the safety topic within automated driving?

Georg Kopetz: Besides safety, another element crucial for our business expansion is the topic of integration. How to bring together different applications on one dependable safety software platform, how to design the tooling environment as well as integration process and how to conduct testing and validation are subject of discussion within the industry. This is the second element where we see that there is an incredible market pull from our automotive OEM customers. If approached properly, integration within AD systems reduces costs because less hardware is required, it shortens development time, brings more flexibility and scalability to OEMs, and, as a result, unleashes many business benefits, which is what makes it an important element of our strategy.

Let’s take a look at the first year of the newly established company, TTTech Auto. What are the three most important achievements that you would like to share?

Georg Kopetz: The three areas of achievements I would like to mention are linked: the first relates to the product, the second to the people and the third area of achievement concerns the blending of our strategy, new funding and investments and the organizational evolution.

Let’s take a look at the product first: we have released the first version of MotionWise based on work we did for the zFAS program for Audi and we are currently working on the MotionWise release 1.5. We have won several new customers for this product around the world, such as SAIC Group, the largest Chinese car maker. To best support them, we established the joint venture Technomous together. This is only one story illustrating how well MotionWise is advancing, gaining the trust of OEMs worldwide and thus expanding its market share.

The second area of achievement are our employees, our highly skilled team, a key element that really makes the difference. We have managed to attract many talented people and achieve amazing organic growth. As our customers activate more automated driving programs, they want us to grow with them, to collaborate side-by-side on pioneering innovative solutions. For example, last year we have won BMW as an important strategic customer and partner. To best support them and take the value of customer-proximity to the next level, we have established a site in Munich. In order to tap into the full potential of a close personal collaboration, we have also established a new management structure for TTTech Auto with two business units, focusing on the topics of safety products & integration and customers engineering. Additionally, we now have a strong team distributed across CEE, Germany, Spain and Asia. One of our key objectives right now is to attract and retain talents, which is why we are taking measures to further improve work life integration and add additional benefits.

The last milestone relates to strategy, organizational evolution and funding. We were backed by considerable funding from Samsung, which gave us the opportunity to not only rely on organic growth, but also to scale up by adding new teams through acquisition. Early this year, we integrated Silicon Gears, a Barcelona-based software company with which we have a track record of productive collaboration since their founding. Silicon Gears is already familiar with the TTTech Auto organization, so this will allow for a seamless integration of the company’s experienced software developers as a vital part of the overall TTTech Auto team.

How are you ensuring you can encapsulate and scale the value that you bring to the automotive market with TTTech Auto’s safety software solutions?

Georg Kopetz: When we observe the evolution of fast-moving digital industries, there has always been a tendency that users want to choose category winners, because they diminish the risk of going the wrong direction for their users. This is especially valid for a platform game, which helps us to scale. Volkswagen Group, the largest carmaker in the world and SAIC Group, the largest carmaker in China, are among our customers and therefore we are confident in stating that we are leading the market with our safety software platform. This is further supported by having Samsung, the second largest global electronics company, and Infineon, one of the largest safety chips manufacturers, as investors.

The result of incorporating our key competences in a platform-centric approach is MotionWise. MotionWise is both powerful for complex automated driving use cases, as well as capable of tackling chassis control or e-powertrain use cases. If we observe the application of MotionWise in ADAS and AD systems, there are additional benefits of scale over time, starting with the currently deployed level 2+ and 3 automated driving functions, all the way towards level 4 and, in the long term, level 5 with fully fail-operational capabilities.

This brings very graspable benefits for OEMs. They are able to realize more programs with one platform-centric solution, using the same tooling environment, migrate or scale functions across different car models and also profit from the integration benefits mentioned earlier. Having an extensive and flexible tooling environment allows our partners or customers to do more things themselves without having to depend too much on our engineering services.