AN Edinburgh software company is set for dramatic expansion after winning a contract from a Japanese firm that could see it play a key role in the development of self-driving cars.

Codeplay will supply technology that will be used to speed the production of components that lie at the heart of the systems that take care of vital tasks such as checking the road for pedestrians.

The company expects to recruit 30 skilled workers in areas such as programming to service the contract with the Renesas semiconductor business,taking employee numbers to 100.

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The contract is expected to provide a significant boost to turnover at Codeplay, which has become a star of the burgeoning Scottish software development sector under the leadership of computer games expert Andrew Richards.

Describing the contract as a big deal for Codeplay, Mr Richards said the company was excited to be working with a leading semiconductor firm in what is set to become a very big market.

He noted: “It endorses the company’s product and the leadership reputation of the software engineers.”

Renesas will use tools produced by Codeplay in systems that will be supplied to firms that want to turn the results of the research process into products that are suitable for mass production.

The push to develop fully autonomous cars forms part of a process that will result in the development of a host of components that automate functions currently completed by drivers, ranging from processors to cameras.

“You’ve got to produce something that you can put in a real car; something that’s small enough. A prototype can be huge,” said Mr Richards.

He added: “To be able to do this you have got to get software from laboratories into a production vehicle.”

With some products likely to spend a long time in the development process the contract with Renesas will provide work for years.

It will cement the standing of Codeplay in a sector in which it has achieved rapid growth in recent years.

Founded by Mr Richards and robotics expert Jens-Uwe Dolinsky in 2002, Codeplay has developed a multi-million pound turnover business.

The company has supplied software used in products such as computer games and smart phones.

Mr Richards started his career writing games for the pioneering ZX Spectrum personal computer at home.

He then developed technology to make the most of advances in graphic hardware.

The entrepreneur said the company expects to be able to recruit the staff required to support the Renesas contract without moving its base from Edinburgh.

The strength of Scotland’s universities means the firm can access a strong skills base in the country.

Mr Richards noted the company has recruited people straight from university and trained them up.

The company has shown it can also attract people from further afield.

“We are able to bring people to Edinburgh as it’s a great place to live,” said Mr Richards.

Codeplay has 70 staff members in Edinburgh, one working remotely on Skye and one in Canada.