Researching the autonomous vehicle retrofit market

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Hearing news about autonomous vehicles has become a daily occurrence, especially when a vehicle made a mistake. Debate is fueling whether the high price of autonomous vehicles is worth it, and whether the technology will be fool proof given the many variables that can enter a vehicle’s path on the open road.

What many people don’t realize is that over the past few years, autonomous vehicle (AV) retrofit technology has quietly carved out a new niche, offering open road vehicles and the industry the ability to adapt AV technology ranging from advanced driver assistance to Level 5 full-fledged driving. autonomous. Retrofit systems start with basic camera sensor technology and advance to complement the system with a combination of LiDAR, Radar, Camera, GPS, and IMU sensors, all operating in tandem with advanced sensing and actuation software.

The retrofit kit industry for autonomous vehicles is expected to continue to grow significantly in the coming years. The surge in demand for AVs, whether fully autonomous or advanced driver-assisted, consumer or commercial, is due to the ability of driverless technologies to increase efficiency, reduce fuel costs, improve safety, provide convenience, reduce commercial labor costs, and offer the ability to drive they. people with disabilities.

Many have blamed the demise of Apple-backed startup Drive.AI on their attempts to develop retrofits, and the failure of similar AV startups has led many to assume retrofits were impossible. However, there are some important points to note. A truly universal one-size-fits-all vehicle retrofit kit for fully autonomous driving may be too high a goal to aspire to, at least not without skilled fitting, given the variations in automotive manufacturing and vehicle types.

For example, each Can-bus system is unique to each make in terms of hardware and software, so the electronic signal to turn left on a Ford is not the same as turning left on a Chevy or Kia. Many universal retrofit kits on the market are capable of driver assistance, or at best, Level 3 autonomy. Fully autonomous Level 5 retrofit systems, such as those from Cyngn, Perrone Robotics, and Mobileye, are highly customized for specific vehicles.

With that in mind, let’s begin our AV retrofit journey with a quick sample of the best AV retrofit solutions, including automotive and industrial consumer applications.

Retrofit Kits

Perrone Robotics.

TONY Autonomous Device from Perrone Robotics. | Source: Perrone Robotics

Perrone Robotics TONY Kits
Transportation type: Every
The TONY Kit from Perrone Robotics is a sensor, control, and communications agnostic autonomy kit. TONY retrofit kits include Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware and software solutions and work with more than 30 different vehicles, including shuttle buses, transit vans, military vehicles, sedans, SUVs, desert vehicles, and more. . The TONY platform has a rich set of autonomous capabilities and reliability and boasts advanced pedestrian and vehicle avoidance and interaction maneuverability. This kit enables the vehicle to operate in adverse weather conditions and can be configured to perform almost any task requiring the driver.

Perrone Robotics is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia and has been in business for more than 20 years.

(embed) Openpilot Kit
Transportation type: Choose a vehicle

Comma’s Openpilot is an open-source, state-of-the-art driver assistance system installed in more than 200 cars such as Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Kia and many more. Installation involves attaching the car’s harness in about 30 minutes, with no permanent modifications, and requires no professional installation.

Openpilot features include adaptive cruise control and automatic lane centering. Openpilot can accelerate, brake automatically for other vehicles, and steer following the road/lane. The driver monitoring system keeps an eye on the driver and ensures the driver is attentive and ready to take over at any moment. was founded in 2015 by George Hotz and is headquartered in San Francisco.

Copernicus Automotive
Transportation type: Most vehicles

Kopernikus Automotive, a startup in Berlin, is making self-driving technology accessible and affordable to ordinary drivers through retrofit solutions. The conversion process is straightforward: seven cameras are strategically placed around the vehicle and linked to a high-performance computer, which acts as the “brain” of the self-driving car. In addition, the startup uses sensors and actuators that are factory installed in the vehicle.

The system functions by controlling steering, similar to parking assistant, and by applying adaptive cruise control. The Kopernicus system is a cost-effective car retrofit kit, which also features an online connection that allows over-the-air updates, allowing the car to continuously learn and improve its autonomous capabilities.

Kopernikus Automotive was founded in 2016 by Stefan Jenzowsky and Tim von Törne and is headquartered in Leipzig, Germany with an R&D Center in Berlin.


DriveMod Cygn
Transportation type: Industry

Cyngn’s DriveMod Kit is a full-stack robotaxi level sensor hardware and software solution for industrial vehicles. Advanced sensor systems including LiDAR, camera, Radar, GPS and IMU, which operate together, but with a flexible architecture that allows individual sensor replacement. These kits are designed to repair a customer’s fleet of industrial vehicles or to integrate autonomy into vehicles at build time. Cyngn’s initial deployment of the DriveMod Kit was installed onto the Stockchaser Columbia, one of the top vehicles used in warehouses and manufacturing, but has also been adapted to fit other industrial vehicles, such as forklifts, etc.

In addition to self-driving vehicle technology, the DriveMod Kit features a lighting system that communicates vehicle status (mode, battery status, route obstructions, and more), and a sophisticated user interface that lets customers program routes, hail vehicles, and more. More than just an AV retrofit kit, we can say DriveMod is a complete industrial autonomy solution.

DriveMod’s rapid deployment offers manufacturers and logistics companies the ability to reap the many benefits of autonomy, such as increased productivity, safety and operational costs.

Cyngn was founded in 2009 by Kirt McMaster and is headquartered in Menlo Park, CA.


Transportation type: Auto or Industrial

With an inherently scalable technology backbone, Mobileye offers solutions to enhance safety in today’s mass-market consumer vehicles with a premium line of autonomous driving products. Mobileye’s innovative self-driving systems can be implemented to disrupt a wide range of industries by turning them autonomous, from driver assistance packages to complete self-driving vehicle and robotaxi capabilities.

Mobileye offers a full range of ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance System) packages, which enable drivers to take advantage of autonomous vehicle technology. Mobileye products include features such as Cloud-Enhanced Driver-Assist, with real-time information about driving locations: lane markings, road priority, traffic lights, and more. Cloud-based information is the most significant way to offer enhanced features and achieve the next leap in ADAS performance while allowing existing technologies to scale as development progresses.

On the near horizon is Mobileye’s turnkey self-driving solution that can turn almost any vehicle into an autonomous vehicle, with 360-degree Lidar and 360-degree camera technology. Already integrated in autonomous public transit, autonomous freight delivery, and autonomous mobility as a service – across industries and around the world, Mobileye Chauffeur and Mobileye Drive are poised to offer open-road and industrial vehicle autonomy.

Mobileye was founded in 1999 by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram and is headquartered in Israel.

Fieldin can turn any tractor into an autonomous vehicle with its retrofit kit. | Credit: Fieldins

Custom Retrofit

Cllr: In addition to Cyngn’s DriveMod Kit, they have initiated custom retrofits of vehicle fleets such as various warehouse vehicles and autonomous forklifts. DriveMod Kit technology is easily adaptable to other vehicle types, making Cyngn a pioneer in the retrofit space.

Field: The company Agtech Fieldin has developed an agricultural platform with autonomous retrofit technology available in kit form. They just launched the largest known autonomous tractor retrofit deployment in the farming industry to date. In November 2021, Fiedlin acquires Midnight Robotics to develop autonomous tractors.

Telephone: California-based Teleo has announced a specially supervised autonomous project (including remote operation) to provide retrofit solutions for heavy construction equipment for vehicles such as wheel loaders, bulldozers and dump trucks.

Retrofit Kit Technology Similar to AV

Worthy of mention are the leaders in the AV retrofit-like space who are fast gaining ground:

Polysync Car.

DriveKit Polysync provides a vehicle control interface for advanced testing and development. | Source: Polysync Retrofit harness kit for drive-by-wire autonomous driving.

Peloton Technology: The Peloton truck platoon system uses Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication to link the braking and accelerating systems between the two trucks, allowing the leading truck to control the acceleration and braking of both trucks simultaneously.

Autonomous Goods: A leader in providing products, engineering services and software that enable robotics, unmanned off-road systems & self-driving cars, enabling companies to implement autonomy reliably and safely.

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