Published: March 30, 2016 |
Mitsubishi Electric is aiming to use components such as millimeter-wave radars, sonars, sensors and cameras – some of which were developed to guide missiles, to make self-driving cars better. The company supplies air-to-air missiles to Japan’s armed forces, is looking to adapt the technologies it originally developed for military use to help autonomous driving cars detect obstacles and avoid collisions.
In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Katsumi Adachi, senior chief engineer at Mitsubishi’s automotive equipment division mentioned that Mitsubishi has been awarded several contracts for automatic braking systems and instruments that help a vehicle keep to its lane.
Mitsubishi Electric is seeking to catch up with Continental AG, Denso Corp and Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd in providing assistance technologies that are becoming increasingly standard offerings in new vehicle models. While its competitors have a head start, Mr Adachi says Mitsubishi will be able to offer superior systems next year that will benefit from its expertise in high-precision sensors and electric-power steering systems.
Mitsubishi will begin production of the components for lane-keeping and automatic braking systems in the year starting April 2017. And in the following fiscal year it may also start manufacturing automatic parking systems, according to Mr Adachi. The global market for driver-assistance features such as collision warning and emergency auto braking is projected by IHS Automotive to double to about US$17 billion in annual revenue by 2021. Mitsubishi’s push into this segment follows slowing growth in some of its businesses such as home appliances.
Mitsubishi, which demonstrated an autonomous driving prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show last year after starting development of driver-assistance technologies two years back, was encouraged by the demand for the EyeSight system in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand, according to Adachi. Subaru’s system combines lane-keeping steering assistance, pre-collision braking control and adaptive cruise control to enhance safety.