Lewandowski is by the German auto boss joins board of the U.S. self-driving software startup

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A company that is working on making open-source self-driving software reliable enough to be used in the commercially available vehicles said that he had hired a former German auto boss as it seeks to expand its reach.

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann speaks during a press conference at the media day at the Paris auto show in Paris, France, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Palo Alto, California-based Apex.AI has been added, Karl-Thomas Neumann, a veteran who in the past served as the chief executive of Continental AG, and led Volkswagen AG’s China business, the board of commissioners.

“Karl-Thomas is a great fit for us as we try to learn from what worked in the past and reach out to more players in the industry,” Apex.AI co-founder, Jan Becker told Reuters in an interview this week.

The AMERICAN company is expanding to Europe, opening an office in Munich, Germany, in July.

Founded by Becker and Dejan Pangercic, two old self-driving car engineers formerly automotive technology supplier Bosch Corp, Apex.AI plans to make for a safer and more reliable version of the so-called Robot Operating System or ROS.

That software is used by many laboratories and companies in their self-driving car and robotic efforts, including Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp and Inc.

The software is open source, meaning that anyone can adopt and make use of the free, but it has up to now mainly used in research settings.

Apex.AI aims to create a robust, failproof version of the software that can be used by car manufacturers, in a later stage of commercial applications to ensure the safety-critical driving functions.

She hopes for the finish of the software by the end of the year and submit it to the German inspection company TÜV approval in the beginning of 2020. Once certified, the software can then be used by automobile manufacturers worldwide, Becker said.

The company wants a license for the software and the costs for support services, with the exact price model currently under discussion, said Neumann.

Apex.AI to date has raised $15.5 million in venture capital funding, including the venture arms of Airbus SA and Toyota Motor Corp. Becker said that the company was well-funded in 2020.

Reporting by Tina Bellon, Editing by Rosalba O’brien

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