In the painful and happy autopilot industry, how should hardware manufacturers treat themselves

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At present, market analysis agencies have great differences on the speed of popularization of self-driving vehicles. BI Intelligence believes that the sales volume will reach 10 million in 2020; IHS predicts that it will reach 600,000 in 2025 and 21 million in 2035; Loup Venture believes that it will reach 20 million in 2040 96 million. However, in any case, analysts recognize the unlimited potential of autonomous driving technology in the future, which has become a common trend in the artificial intelligence industry and the automotive industry. As of June 2018, 45 companies have obtained California driverless road test permits. Self-driving cars are constantly evolving, and this process cannot be separated from the active participation of semiconductor component manufacturers.

Autonomous driving requires multi-device fusion

Autonomous driving is a disruptive technology in the automotive industry. It is an efficient integration of the first three of the new four modernizations of automobiles (intelligence, electrification, networking, and sharing). However, all of these innovations are based on powerful semiconductor hardware. Xi Yunxia, head of ON Semiconductor’s intelligent perception automotive market, said that ON Semiconductor has a 70% share in the existing advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) market. From semi-autonomous driving to fully automatic driving, ON Semiconductor’s product line has a comprehensive layout for autonomous driving, invested a lot of money in intelligent perception, and vigorously developed new products to adapt to the realization of fully automatic driving. In addition to the ultrasonic radar and image sensor with the highest market share, ON Semiconductor also expands its products to millimeter-wave radar and lidar to provide a full range of solutions for fully autonomous driving perception.

Xi Yunxia, Head of Smart Sensing Automotive Market, ON Semiconductor

Sensors are the eyes of a self-driving car. Through sensors, self-driving cars are able to recognize roads, other vehicles, pedestrian obstacles and infrastructure. According to different technical routes of autonomous driving, sensors can be divided into three types: lidar, traditional radar and camera. Xi Yunxia said that the most important part of autonomous driving is perception. ON Semiconductor will provide a complete set of solutions in terms of intelligent sensing semiconductor components, including ultrasonic radar, camera, millimeter wave radar, and lidar, to assist in the most important components that make up the entire system.

At the same time, Xi Yunxia also pointed out that each perception scheme has its advantages and disadvantages and application scenarios, and they are indispensable in automatic driving. It’s just that in the process of implementation, each enterprise has its own plan, and the perceived plan and focus of choice are different according to its cost and performance. ON Semiconductor also believes that the sensor fusion solution is an important link in the development and realization of autonomous driving.

Industry fever is accompanied by entrepreneurial fever

According to a Reuters report in October 2017, there were more than 240 start-ups engaged in the research and development of autonomous driving technology in the world at that time. After entering 2018, the start-up boom for autonomous driving has not weakened. There are already more than 300+ start-ups staking their fortunes in the industry, involving several key areas such as autonomous driving solutions, lidar, high-precision maps, and computing chips. Financing Constant competition with technology.

In addition to industry hot factors, the introduction of policies has also become a pointer for start-ups to enter. Take China’s autonomous driving market as an example. In 2017, China’s “Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for the Automobile Industry” was promulgated, which made a specific time plan for intelligent networked vehicles. The plan requires that by 2025, the assembly rate of new cars with DA (assisted driving), PA (partially automated driving), and CA (conditional automated driving) will reach 80%, of which the assembly rate of new cars with PA and CA levels will reach 25%. With the introduction and opening of the policy, a large number of start-ups focusing on the research of L4 autonomous driving solutions have followed. According to incomplete statistics, in the Chinese market alone, more than 20 companies have received tens of millions of financing.

The arrival of start-ups has put pressure on established solution providers. In this regard, Xi Yunxia said that ON Semiconductor believes that start-ups are very important in the development of autonomous driving and play a pivotal role. Emerging industries will definitely drive more start-ups to enter this market. In particular, China is vigorously promoting artificial intelligence (AI) related technologies, making this market booming. Many start-ups in China have their own powerful AI algorithms and are ahead of the entire international market. In addition, more start-ups also have reserves and breakthroughs in hardware, and many start-ups are developing their own chips. There are also many start-ups that are gradually shortening the distance with the world’s advanced companies in terms of vision, millimeter-wave radar, and lidar.

Moreover, Xi Yunxia added that in ON Semiconductor’s autonomous driving development strategy, these start-ups occupy a very important position. ON Semiconductor has always taken the opportunity of supporting and helping start-ups to lay a solid foundation for opening up the future market. This example is not uncommon in existing markets. ON Semiconductor’s share of ADAS as high as 70% is a good example of helping start-ups.

Difficulty landing the industry

Of course, the upsurge in the autonomous driving industry has caused many people to ignore the great resistance that exists in its progress. In the past year, news of accidents involving self-driving test vehicles has repeatedly appeared in the newspapers, making people question the bright future of autonomous driving.

At the hardware level, self-driving vehicles require the efficient cooperation of multiple lidars, traditional radars, and cameras. The size of the product poses certain obstacles to the design of the vehicle, and the price of the product sets a certain threshold for entry and purchase.

In terms of software, in addition to enabling the vehicle to better understand the driver’s intentions, it is also necessary for the computer to collect data and then make decisions to control the vehicle, just as humans observe the surrounding environment and operate proficiently when driving on the road. This requires a long and rigorous training process, because once the vehicle is on the road, it needs to be foolproof.

In addition, there are a series of obstacles waiting for companies to overcome such as regulations, personnel acceptance and sophisticated maps.

Xi Yunxia’s view on this is that there are many obstacles to the implementation of autonomous driving, because it involves the integration of components, hardware, software, algorithms and systems, as well as the construction of infrastructure. And no company can have the ability in all aspects, and every enterprise or company is only an expert in a certain aspect, and it is not easy to make breakthroughs in technology. Therefore, it is necessary for the entire industry and the country to build a very effective ecosystem and promote joint research and development.

Of course, every industry will face various obstacles in the process of transformation. With the soundness of policies and laws, and as technology continues to be overcome, we all believe that autonomous vehicles will gradually penetrate into our society. Judging from the current situation, the fully autonomous driving form of special operation vehicles may come first, such as unmanned express vehicles, unmanned buses, or unmanned municipal sweepers. But no matter how it is promoted, it cannot prevent investment and manpower in solutions such as ON Semiconductor.

According to a research report released by global management consulting firm McKinsey in the first half of the year, China is likely to become the world’s largest autonomous driving market in the future. By 2030, China’s autonomous driving-related new car sales and travel services will generate more than 500 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, becoming the largest market in the world. An important segment of the global autonomous driving market. “ON Semiconductor will enter the Chinese market as a leading company in intelligent sensing semiconductor components. New technologies and products will be developed on various sensing components to help the entire market advance in autonomous driving.” Xi Yunxia finally said.

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