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Tier IV


Establishing a visionary partnership

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Shinpei Kato, Founder and CTO, Tier IV

“We are leaders in the ecosystem of companies building autonomous-driving cars with ROS and Autoware. With this partnership, our OEM and Tier 1 customer projects in Japan will benefit from global expertise in state-of-the-art software development, with integration and deployment support from Tier IV.”

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Jan Becker, Co-Founder, and CEO of Apex.AI, and Shinpei Kato, Founder, and CTO of Tier IV, sharing their vision for software in autonomy at Automotive World 2020 in Tokyo,  January 2020.

Image: Tier IV

Modern software development for automotive

Modern software development requires large teams (often hundreds of developers), spread across different companies working on production quality engineering projects without losing speed and efficiency. The Apex.AI and Tier IV architectural approach enables agile development in a safety-critical automotive context. Best of all, it combines the reach of open-source with the high-quality bar expected by our customers.


Dejan Pangercic, CTO, Apex.AI

“We lead the adoption of modern C++ and state-of-the-art software engineering practices in the automotive industry. Partnering with Tier IV to advance open-source and open software stacks to bring autonomous driving to reality. We look forward to completing the next milestones to celebrate Autoware.Auto being used in more and more autonomous driving commercial applications.”

Engineering challenges needed a new vision

The Autoware.Auto idea was born in the summer of 2018 - when Apex.AI and Tier IV jointly completed a successful autonomous driving demo on the streets of Palo Alto, California. We realized the need for a safe, secure, and robust autonomous driving stack with the state of the art software engineering practices that will lay the foundation for subsequent certification work and deployment in autonomous vehicles.


Akihito Ohsato, Autoware Team Lead, Tier IV

“In 2018 we came upon a few significant challenges: A new Toyota Lexus vehicle, US roads and traffic rules, and the limitations of the existing software stack. Apex.AI helped make this demo performant, reliable, and safe, and in the process brought upon a myriad of new learning lessons for us, and made Autoware.Auto a thriving project. It is great to work with the highly skilled Apex.AI engineers and to benefit from their understanding of software engineering and architectures for autonomous driving.”

Autoware.Auto combines state-of-the-art architectures, algorithms, software design, implementation, and integration techniques, with sensing, localization, perception, planning, control, and mapping components based on ROS 2. By supporting the commonly used sensing modalities including camera, radar, LiDAR, IMU, and GNSS in a sensor-agnostic and ECU-agnostic way, advanced sensor fusion approaches can be implemented for higher accuracy, robustness, and wide applicability. Customers can easily port, modify and customize their software to adapt to their hardware, performance, and ODD requirements.

“Autoware.Auto code quality is very high. It's well documented, modular, tested, and well-reviewed. The documentation allows a developer like myself to start development right away. Modularized code makes it easy to understand the whole structure, as well as test, modify, and add functions easily. It is the best starting point for any autonomous driving project!”

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Takamasa Horibe, Control Expert, Tier IV

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Autoware.Auto architecture for L4/5 Autonomy.

Image: Tier IV 

Apex.AI and Tier IV’s collaboration combines Tier IV’s leading autonomous vehicle design and integration capabilities with Apex.AI’s software stack for safety-critical autonomous systems.


Tier IV, a deep-tech startup based in Japan, has led the development of Autoware, the world's first open-source software for autonomous driving, and provides turn-key solutions for the commercialization of autonomous vehicles based on the Autoware software stack running on different platforms. Applications range from last-mile delivery, robotaxi, futuristic mobility-as-a-service vehicles, and fleet management systems.

Becoming the world's largest autonomous driving open-source community

The Apex.AI - Tier IV collaboration dates back many years, and both are pioneers in autonomous driving. 


Today, Autoware hosts the world's largest autonomous driving open-source community developing applications from ADAS to autonomous driving. Apex.AI’s contribution to Autoware.Auto helps transform open-source software into a production-ready technology for self-driving cars.

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Daisuke Tanaka,

COO, Tier IV

“We collaborated with Apex.AI to demonstrate Autonomous Valet Parking in 2020, and since then have been working on much more advanced capabilities. Our deep engineering collaboration has helped create a robust architectural approach to develop advanced perception, planning, and control for a variety of use cases. This allows Autoware.Auto to be used in applications like cargo delivery, port drayage, agriculture, mining, highway autonomy, and pioneering mobility-as-a-service projects.”


Two years of work in Autoware coming together nicely on an autonomous-ready Lexus RX450H in a pre-mapped parking lot in San Jose, CA in October 2020.

Image: Autonomous Valet Parking 

A path from open-source to production has been established

The Tier IV & Apex.AI partnership marks a significant milestone in technology for mobility: A path to production has been established using open-source components, supported by well-known companies, lowering risk and shortening the timeline for commercial autonomous mobility around the world. Thousands of developers from organizations around the world have benefited from the tons of practical guidelines from experts in the field, available in the free fourteen-part Autoware course hosted by Apex.AI. If you are developing an autonomous system, and are interested in modern architectures that are real-time and safe, please make sure you visit Apex.AI first!

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Testing in adverse conditions increases safety and reliability.

Image: Tier IV 

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