Hexagon grows in autonomous
Hexagon has quietly been building out a solid set of assets that get it ever-closer to the coming autonomous world, starting waaay back when it acquired Leica and Intergraph and, last weekend, announced its intent to add AutonomouStuff (great company name, btw) to the portfolio.
You may remember that Hexagon’s assets include maps as well as sensors, enabling the connection of “where am I?” with “what’s around me?”. In 2016, things got more specific, as Multivista extended “as built” info to a mobile, positioned, construction workflow. They also got broader, as Hexagon acquired Catavolt’s mobile application development and delivery platform, with cloud and edge computing, to connect apps to Hexagon’s SMART Convergence connectivity platform. Finally, a year ago, Hexagon snapped up VIRES, which makes simulation software for the development and validation of driver-assisted and fully vehicles. Do you see the pattern? Vertical, platform, enabling — Hexagon has invested an unknown amount in acquiring and developing technology for autonomous capabilities for its end-users in process and power, mining, automotive, aerospace and manufacturing.
Now AutonomouStuff, which makes integrated autonomous vehicle solutions, enters the family. According to Hexagon’s materials, AutonomouStuff’s turnkey platforms for autonomous vehicle development, robotics and data intelligence “are deployed in pilot programs worldwide – representing more than 2,500 customers in the automotive and technology sectors across Silicon Valley, America, Europe, and Asia”.
Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén said that “[t]he acquisition of AutonomouStuff accelerates Hexagon’s ability to move our customers beyond the data impasse of IoT. We’re particularly interested in technologies that are the most disruptive – those capable of leveraging the vast potential of data being generated by connected things … When combined with our positioning intelligence, mapping and sensing technology leadership, this acquisition creates a nexus of domain expertise that will lead the autonomous mobility industry for years to come.”
Also according to Hexagon, AutonomouStuff had sales of $45 million in 2017, and “the transaction purchase price will not be publicly disclosed as it’s insignificant relative to Hexagon’s market capitalisation”. So there. Regulatory hurdles, etc. still need to be satisfied, but Hexagon expects the deal to close in the next 90 days.
Here’s why this matters: Hexagon’s customers include manufacturers in all verticals, mining, oil and gas … These are dangerous industries, well-served by anything that takes the humans out the loop. Enter autonomous. This is, of course, about passenger cars and taxis, but even more about industrial vehicles, robots and other machines that can make fast decisions without human intervention. AutonomouStuff is in use in 2,500 pilot projects around the world — that’s far more than the number of car companies out there, so the pilots are in all sorts industries that don’t catch public imagination. I hope to meet with AutonomouStuff at HxGN LIVE next week to hear more about how this all fits together.
Update: An alert reader wrote in to say that VIRES is functionally part of MSC Software, the CAE company Hexagon acquired in 2017. He writes, “in many ways, MSC is the glue within the Hexagon portfolio of autonomous solutions”.