VALEO PRAGUE, AT THE FOREFRONT OF RESEARCH INTO DRIVING ASSISTANCE AND E-THERMAL SYSTEMS
Over the past two decades, Valeo Prague’s R&D center has become a reference site for the development and validation of driving assistance systems and, more recently, the e-thermal systems that are essential for the efficiency of electric vehicles. Here we take a look at this site that is making daily progress towards cleaner and safer mobility.
Twenty years ago, it was a simple and modest office where only a few dozen employees worked. Today, it is a campus with 4 buildings, the last of which was recently opened by the Czech Minister of Transport himself on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the site, where some 700 people now work.
Originally, the site was dedicated exclusively to the development of automotive air conditioning systems. Since then, the site has considerably expanded its skills and areas of expertise, becoming a reference in the development of driving aids and latest generation thermal systems, adapted to the electrification of vehicles.
"Valeo Prague is unique in that we work here on absolutely all types of driving assistance sensors: ultrasonic sensors, cameras, radar, LiDARs," emphasizes Edgar Martinez-Granada, the site’s R&D manager for ADAS. "We are also working on all types of driving assistance functions: automatic emergency braking, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking and autonomous driving up to level 4. We are proud to contribute every day to safer and more autonomous mobility."
The site has state-of-the-art equipment for this purpose, including a test track that is unique within the Group, in Milovice, some 50 kilometers from Prague. A former military airport runway, nearly 3 km long, it allows high-speed test scenarios to be carried out for all driving assistance systems.
The validation of Valeo’s LiDARS, which today equip the world’s first cars capable of reaching level 3 autonomy, was carried out in the center of Prague and on the Milovice test track. Valeo’s expertise in the validation of driving aids is such that it will offer its expertise and infrastructure to all industry players in the form of a new service offering, called AD Tech Services.
Similarly, for the development of thermal systems dedicated to electric cars, the site has electromagnetic analysis systems, a climate chamber and a state-of-the-art acoustic chamber. It is here that Valeo engineers develop intelligent thermal systems – heating, ventilation and air conditioning – which ensure the thermal comfort of passengers while preserving the range and life of the batteries.
As a sign of the site’s capacity for innovation, Valeo Prague engineers have already filed more than 70 patents.
"Clearly, the Valeo Prague site is a site where things are boiling over and moving forward very quickly. We are growing all the time. The projects are multiplying. It’s incredibly dynamic," sums up Lenka Topinkovà, R&D process engineer.
This constant evolution of the site has obviously been accompanied by a profound change in jobs and skills. Today, their work revolves not only around mechanical engineering, the original expertise, but also around electronics, mechatronics, software, systems engineering, cybersecurity and big data.