Centre developing driverless car technology to open in Prague

Photo: archive of Valeo

The French company Valeo is planning to open a new centre aimed at developing driverless car technology in Prague this coming December. The move will make the Czech capital one of the leading centres in the world in the growing field of autonomous cars, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported.

Photo: archive of Valeo
Valeo’s centre in the city’s Hostivař district will cover 9,000 square metres, with over a third of that area given over to state of the art laboratories focused on systems aimed at helping or completely replacing drivers, as well as allowing for communication between vehicles and surrounding infrastructure, the newspaper said.

The French firm already has approximately 3,000 employees in the Czech Republic and will hire over 600 more for the new development centre, a Valeo representative told Lidové noviny.

The company focuses on spare parts and is not developing its own driverless vehicles, as the internet and technology giant Google famously has been in recent years. Rather it will supply such technology to a number of the world’s auto manufacturers also hoping to grab a slice of the market in future.

Valeo focuses on two kinds of projects: the development and testing of its own technology, which manufacturers use in their vehicles; and tailor-made systems for particular models of cars.

In Prague it will work on both types of projects, with applications developed in the Czech capital likely to be used in millions of cars of different makes around the globe.

Valeo prides itself on being a world leader in the development of sensors and cameras for auto assistance and safety systems and those areas will be a particular focus of the planned Prague centre, Lidové noviny said.

The laboratory will feature test benches for trying out equipment, heat chambers to check devices’ durability, a prototype workshop, a facility for the redesign of cars and a special station for testing ultrasound and radar sensors.

A Valeo official told the daily that though there was a shortage of technology specialists on the Czech market, it was an attractive area of the auto sector.

The company has the option of making hires outside the country and can also draw on local students, with whom it already cooperates intensively, the representative said.

Valeo has 134 production plants around the world, as well as 17 research and 35 development centres. It has a total staff of over 80,000 people and had revenues last year of EUR 14.5 billion.