NEW YORK -- Former Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has joined the board of directors of California-based Apex.AI, a company working to make open-source self-driving software reliable enough to be used in commercially available vehicles, the startup said.
Neumann previously led General Motors Europe business including Opel/Vauxhall, but left after GM sold the unit to PSA Group. Before that, he led Volkswagen's China business and was CEO of Continental.
"Karl-Thomas is a great fit for us as we're trying to learn off what worked in the past and reach out to more industry players," Apex.AI co-founder Jan Becker said.
The company is expanding to Europe, opening an office in Munich in July.
Founded by Becker and Dejan Pangercic, two longtime self-driving car engineers formerly at Robert Bosch, Apex.AI plans to make a safer and more reliable version of the so-called Robot Operating System, or ROS.
That software is used by scores of labs and companies in their self-driving car and robotics efforts, including Intel, Microsoft and Amazon. The software is open source, meaning that anyone can adopt it and use it free of charge, but it has so far mainly been deployed in research settings.
Apex.AI aims to create a robust, failproof version of the software that can be deployed by automakers in later stage commercial applications to guarantee safety-critical driving functions.
The company hopes to finish the software by the end of the year and submit it to German inspection firm TUEV for approval in early 2020. Once certified, the software could then be deployed by automakers worldwide, Becker said.
The company wants to license the software and charge for support services, with the exact pricing model currently under discussion, Neumann said.
Apex.AI to date has raised $15.5 million in venture capital funding, including from the venture arms of Airbus and Toyota. Becker said the company was well-funded into 2020.