EarningsESI announced today that it is acquiring CIVITEC, maker of Pro-SiVIC, a platform for the modeling and simulation of sensors in what it calls “perception assistance systems”. You’ve seen the commercial for the car that parallel parks itself: how does it know where it sits in relation to the parking space? How far away other vehicles are, fore and aft? How hard to turn the steering wheel? All of that requires data, and then systems design: creating a 3D model of your car and surrounding cars/trees/etc, capturing your changing location with sensors, and connecting the computed desired action to electronics to mechanical systems that make it all happen. Pro-SiVIC enables designers to create these interactions, define and configure the sensors and produce simulated data to store or exchange with another application, such as the mechatronics that enable the wheels to turn.

CIVITEC was formed in 2009 as a spin-off of IFSTTAR, the French Institute of Science, Transport Technology and Network Development. By acquiring 80% of CIVITEC’s shares, ESI Group says it has the opportunity to commercialize CIVITEC technology, make the Pro-SiVIC development platform more industrially robust, and deliver it through its worldwide sales network. Details of the transaction were not announced, though the deal was financed by ESI’s credit facilities.

Alain de Rouvray, ESI’s CEO said in prepared remarks that “[t]his new expertise of assistance to human perception … provides opportunity to take into account the interactions of a vehicle, or any other industrial product, with its scalable immersive environment. Once integrated into digital 3D modeling, it will enable dramatically accelerated design and prototyping of embedded control and security systems and thereby strengthen the value of our global solutions in virtual prototyping.”

Further, M. de Rouvray says that the acquisition is “[c]learly strategic for ESI Group [and] amplifies our technological and commercial synergies in many sectors, including automotive, aerospace and more generally address the new societal challenges of the mobility and safety industries”.

If you drive a newish car, you likely have some form of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The generic category includes everything from a backup camera that spawns beeps if you get too close to an object, to sensors that cause your headlights to turn on at dusk, to adaptive cruise control, automate braking and technology that keeps you in your lane. ADAS regulations are still evolving but ESI estimates that it can cost on the order of €10 million to €30 million for a vehicle manufacturer to prove that it meets active safety qualifications if it has to build prototypes to prove compliance; Pro-SiVIC enables ADAS simulation at a substantially lower cost. And, of course, as we get ever closer to an autonomous, driver-less vehicle, the need for this technology will only grow.

ESI says that CIVITEC is operationally profitable (likely meaning that the company reports a net loss that ESI can mitigate), and that the acquisition is expected to be accretive to ESI in the short term.

ESI was the acknowledged leader in crash simulation for many years and remains so in parts of the world and at the high-end; adding Pro-SiVIC to the mix enables it to market a more comprehensive passive and active safety technology design and simulation solution while also growing into embedded electronic systems. We all know that embedded systems are used across many industries, so this acquisition will help ESI strengthen its offering across the board.