In addition to autonomous trucks on highways, self-driving cars for urban ride-hailing, and robotic delivery services, autonomous vehicle technology is emerging for yard operations. Unikie is developing and testing a logistics system at Valmet Automotive's automotive factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland. The Automated Factory Parking technology is designed to provide valet parking for cars that do not have autonomous features.
“Valmet Automotive is interested in new technologies as a way to gain competitive advantage through improved efficiency and safety for our processes, and it has been interesting to see how the system can manage a production environment,” said Sami Kunvik, manager of manufacturing engineering at Valmet Automotive.
Founded in 2015, Unikie said it develops software for “protected real-time processes.” The Finland-based company said it focuses on “deep tech” such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G networking, and artificial intelligence to provide constant awareness of surroundings, as well as decision-making and control based on that awareness.
Unikie added that its 2020 turnover was 33 million euros ($39.12 million U.S.), and it received 7 million euros ($8.3 million) in growth capital from Capman Growth and Tesi last year. The company employs over 400 software developers in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, and the U.S. Its customers include automotive and telecommunications firms worldwide.
Automated Factory Parking validated
The Automated Factory Parking system does not require vehicles to have any autonomous capabilities or additional sensors. The need only the basic capabilities for steering, changing gears, accelerating, and braking, as defined by the ISO23374 standard.
In Uusikaupunki, Unikie and Valmet Automotive have run a test series for driving a vehicle from the plant to a logistics field for shipping aided by the infrastructure only.
“At the Uusikaupunki plant, we have been utilizing the same automated valet parking technology as in Munich but in an industrial environment indoors and outdoors, which presents new challenges for the system,” said Vesa Kiviranta, chief business officer for automotive at Unikie. “During our testing, we have had various weather conditions and have proven that the system can operate with reliability even in pouring rain.”
Testing and validating the Automated Factory Parking technology at a business-critical environment is an important step in taking it to the production stage, said Unikie.
“By taking our solution into use, our customers can achieve remarkable improvements in efficiency and significant cost savings,” claimed Kiviranta.
Unikie to present at IAA Mobility
Unikie plans to demonstrate its technology next week in the Automated Valet Parking Showcase at IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, Germany. It will be the world’s first live presentation of how systems from major automotive OEMs and different technology providers will work cross-functionally, it said.
Unkie is a member of the German Automotive Association (VDA). It will presenting its interoperable system in a joint project of five automakers, including BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, and Cariad, a technology subsidiary of Volkswagen Group. The project also includes four technology vendors: Unikie, Bosch, Valeo, and Continental/Kopernikus.
Unikie said it is working with multiple OEMs to validate its technology, and it expects the first production installations during 2022.