The romanian startup PRIME Motors, whose main line of business is in battery manufacturing for high capacity storage and electric vehicles, has expressed interest to integrate self-driving capabilities into their offer for electric car propulsion. The start-up offers clients the possibility to convert individual vehicle instances from a combustion-based propulsion system to an electric one.

To this end, a project proposal was submitted and funding was obtained within the NETIO (“Ecosistem de cercetare, inovare si dezvoltare de produse si servicii TIC pentru o societate conectata la Internet of Things – NETIO”, contract de finantare POC nr. 53/05.09.2016) framework, a national, structural funds financing line offered by the Romanian Agency for Scientific Research (ANCS). The title of the subproject that funds the research within NemoDrive is “Sistem inteligent de decizie și predicție pentru conducerea autonomă a vehiculelor electrice – AutoDrive”.

The general objective of the project is the development of an autonomous driving solution capable of offering a solid baseline for further R&D perspectives of PRIME Motors.

The specific research and development objectives outlined in the project are:

  • Developing a data collection and aggregation platform for information coming from the car itself (steering direction, engine power, forces during a turn or when going downhill, etc.) as well as from sensors mounted on it (LIDAR, 2D and 3D cameras, etc.).
  • Development of a symbolic (virtual) simulator and corresponding training methods, allowing for the introduction of rare driving situations (e.g. hitting an obstacle, running over a bumper at high speed) in order to develop driving policy algorithms which know how to correct or avoid such scenarios
  • Development of a decision and prediction component that produces driving policies which are similar to trajectories obtained from a human driver
  • Development of a route planning algorithm which can adapt to unforeseen track changes, with a specific focus on possible situations within the UPB campus
  • Packaging of the autonomous driving solutions into a hardware setup capable of being deployed on a vehicle
  • Testing the developed autonomous driving solution within the UPB campus on an electric Dacia Logan vehicle, built by PRIME Motors


First stage: involves design of the first iteration of the system, considering on the three main required components : data collection (from the car and its sensors – GPS, LiDAR, video cameras, radar), perception (understanding the environment), as well as route and trajectory planning.

Second stage: involves detail design of improved trajectory planning algorithms, including implementation of end-to-end steering solutions which use symbolic simulation to improve their output driving policy. Second stage also involves reusing or improving solutions for semantic understanding of the driving situation based on visual input, as well as investigating the ability of vision-based algorithms to offer explainability for the computed driving policy.

An essential objective is also that of obtaining a workable data collection, processing, labeling and training pipeline for use/reuse in this project and related ones.

Third stage: focuses on extensive testing within the UPB campus. Special attention is given to the tuning of trajectory planning, obstacle avoidance and safety ensuring measures (e.g. pedestrian detection and tracking, precise vehicle localization).

Activity 1.1 (Mar. 2018 - Aug. 2018)

Functional and architectural specifications of the system, establish required equipment, including mobile hardware platform configuration

Activity 1.2 (Mar. 2018 - Feb. 2019)

Design and evaluation of components for data fusion, positioning and decision making

Activity 1.3 (Mar. 2018 - Feb. 2019)

Design and evaluation of the simulated training environment based on the interpretation of the data from the fusion component

Activity 2.1 (Mar. 2019 - Feb. 2020)

Implement the final version of the fusion, positioning and decision making (including trajectory planning) components

Activity 2.2 (Mar. 2019 - Feb. 2020)

Integration of the component for specific traffic conditions recognition and semantic interpretation of the driving scene

Activity 3.1. (Mar. 2020 - Aug. 2020)

Deploy the final integrated autonomous driving solution on the vehicle

Activity 3.2. (Mar. 2020 - Aug. 2020)

Validation through multiple tests, with varying degrees of difficulty and final demo development for autonomous driving within the UPB campus

Activity 3.3. (Mar. 2020 - Aug. 2020)

Dissemination, exploitation and result capitalization


PRIME Motors is the partner company within the NemoDrive project and, in fact, the initiator of this endeavour.

At its core, PRIME Motors is a specialized hardcore technology company focused on tailor made battery packs and electric drives and also an important provider of Lithium battery solutions in Europe.

As part of the Metair international group, PRIME Motors specializes in two main verticals:

  • Energy Storage: manufacturing of batteries for use in the automotive, telecoms, utility, mining, retail and materials/products handling sectors. Automotive batteries are supplied to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and also to unique aftermarket distribution channels and franchised retail networks.
  • Automotive components: production of original equipment (OE) components used in the assembly of new vehicles by OEMs in South Africa, as well as spare parts and other products used in the South African automotive aftermarket.

Apart from its main verticals, PRIME Motors also specializes in offering on-demand, client tailored solutions for converting specific vehicle instances from a combustion-based propulsion system to an electric one. Depending on customer demands, the company tailors the type and number of batteries used, as well as the type of inverter and electric motor that drive the vehicle propulsion system.

In the NemoDrive project, the company is investing great effort into turning a Dacia Logan II into a vehicle with self-driving capabilities. The challenge is far greater than just turning the vehicle into an electrically driven one.

A great amount of custom engineering effort (mechanical, electrical and software based) is being spent on solutions for vehicle actuation, since the Dacia Logan does not come equipped with: a controllable steering system, a means for automating the braking system or a controllable acceleration system. The company helps us solve these challenges as the project progresses.

Furthermore, PRIME Motors is involved in the acquisition and installation of all the sensors needed for our final autonomous driving solution: one high-end LiDAR, 5 RGB cameras, 3 radar system, GPS and IMU for positioning.