The International Motor Show Germany (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung), one of the world’s largest motor shows, ended in great success on the 22nd.
The most important theme for this year’s Motor Show was “autonomous driving.” A host of German automakers showcased various concept cars and solutions infused with autonomous driving technology, and major parts producers also introduced sensors and components developed specifically for autonomous driving, giving the world a glimpse of new possibilities and innovations to come for the automotive industry.
In particular, the Motor Show offered an excellent opportunity for manufacturers and consumers to witness the industry’s progress in rapidly evolving autonomous driving sensors, different electric vehicle platforms for mass-produced cars, interior space design, and services form major automobile corporations in one venue.
Evolutionary direction of autonomous driving proposed by major automobile makers
In this year’s International Motor Show Germany, Audi unveiled a new open-road autonomous driving concept vehicle called AI:TRAIL. Designed to be an off-road vehicle, AI:TRAIL featured five drones on its roof capable of assisting its autonomous driving at night. Specifically, Audi shared that it will support level-3 autonomous driving on unpaved roads, and level-4 on standard (paved) roads.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz and Rinspeed showcased modular autonomous driving concept cars at the Motor Show. A modular design, which involves designing the drive train and interior space separately, typically allows the manufacturer to diversify the combination of drive train and interior space it can produce. Rinspeed’s microSNAP was previously introduced at the CES 2019, and Mercedes-Benz’s Vision URBANETIC was unveiled at the Hanover Motor Show 2018. In particular, Mercedes-Benz proposed the new concept of a vehicle capable of being used as a logistics and transportation solution - bus during the day and truck during the evening - with Vision URBANETIC.
These autonomous driving-related concept cars were enough to give people a good idea on the importance of autonomous driving sensors to ensure high-precision situational awareness for vehicles, and the evolution of modular designs using electric vehicle platforms, importance of interior space, and changes to services offered by automotive corporations.
Symphony of constantly evolving autonomous driving technology and cutting-edge components
Autonomous driving parts companies also announced a number of different innovative technologies to present their vision for mobility. Mando as well as other major parts producers such as Bosch, Continental, and ZF all showcased their autonomous driving sensor technology and driving components.
In particular, Mando, Continental, and ZF unveiled autonomous driving sensor products each featuring an integrated camera-radar-lidar system. Bosch, however, announced its plans to focus on systems using cameras and radar technology only for the near future.
Continental held demonstrations using its lidar sensor system, which still remained in its development stage. Fixed lidar sensors are currently hampered by their short detection ranges. Continental shared its expectations to commercialize lidar for short-range measurements for the time being.
On the other hand, ZF is using its autonomous platform “Pro AI” series solutions, and is collaborating with a variety of sensor companies to supply autonomous driving sensor systems. Most notably, at this year’s Motor Show, ZF introduced Ibeo product developed based on ZF’s work with other sensor companies.
Meanwhile, Velodyne, a lidar technology company, promoted the utility of small sensors (fixed lidar, dome-type small lidar systems) over traditional rotating products when it comes to automotive applications. According to Velodyne, its strategy is to increase collaboration with automotive companies through its Velarray fixed sensor and VelaDome dome-type small sensor products.
The 2019 International Motor Show Germany also featured a wide variety of sensors developed by start-ups from all over the world. In the lidar field, SOS LAB, a lidar company Mando has an investment stake in, as well as Blickfeld (Germany) and LS Lidar (China) unveiled their lidar products.
In addition to lidar systems, there were plenty of other alternative sensors on display at the Motor Show this year. Arbe, an Israeli corporation, introduced a 4D radar system. This 4D radar technology was previously showcased at CES 2019 by Smart Radar System (Korea) and Arbe. Toposens (Germany) and Vayyar (Israel) each presented 4D ultrasonography sensors and UWB-based sensors.
Moving forward, the markets for lidar sensors and other sensor technology will face some significant changes as autonomous driving technology progresses through the level-3, 4, and 5 stages. Moreover, depending on when lidar sensors go into mass-production, market demand for 4D radars and other alternative sensors is expected to change as well.
Mando, a step closer to a complete autonomous driving sensor portfolio
At this year’s International Motor Show Germany, Mando focused on promoting its autonomous driving sensor portfolio. In particular, Mando introduced its new lidar system (currently in development). To date, Mando has secured unrivaled technology and know-how by mass-producing sensors for autonomous driving and ADAS solutions.
It uses its proprietary technology, developed thanks to extensive research in radar technology, to mass-produce corner radars, forward-facing radars, and rear-facing radars. In terms of camera modules, Mando works with Mobileye (Israel) to supply radar-related modules. Currently, Mando products are used in Mobileye’s EyeQ4 products, and moving forward, new modules are expected to be developed and used in the upcoming EyeQ5 system. Mando also showcased other safety solutions, including a driver system that monitors the driver’s heart rate with radar and a child safety system that senses the presence of children in the back seat to prevent parents from leaving their children inside the car.
However, the star of this year’s Motor Show was Mando’s lidar prototypes. Mando introduced its rotating lidar and fixed lidar systems, both of which are being developed with proprietary Mando technology. As for the rotating lidar system, the decision to proceed with mass-production or not will depend on the future growth of the lidar market. If Mando deems it a profitable enterprise, it will finalize the specifications and begin production.
With regards to autonomous driving processing units, Mando unveiled a new Driving Control Unit and Parking Control Unit. At present, control units are being mass-produced to serve the autonomous driving level-2 stage. However, new units are expected to be launched in the market as autonomous driving technology goes through its level-3, 4, and 5 stages.
Also on display were next-generation autonomous driving-related driving products such as braking, steering, and suspension systems. For braking systems, Mando promoted an integrated braking system called the IDB system. The IDB system uses motors rather than conventional pneumatic devices, which helps it deliver faster stoppage time and lightweight. Mando also unveiled a system that controls steering with electrical/electronic signals. This new system was developed to offer a steering sensation that feels similar to a pneumatic steering system. For suspension systems, a Smart Damping Control solution that senses the road surface to regulate suspension stiffness was introduced by Mando in this year’s Show. Specifically, Mando engineered this system to adjust the height of the car when loading or unloading cargo.
The three start-ups funded by Mando all presented noteworthy products as well. The start-ups demonstrated their technology inside Mando’s exhibition space to introduce visitors to what they had on offer. Giving start-ups a chance to exhibit their products under the moniker of a major brand was a great opportunity to build a mutually beneficial relationship between Mando and the start-ups.
All of Mando products that were available at the Motor Show were those currently being mass-produced for existing ADAS systems or autonomous driving level-2 systems. Moving forward, depending on the progress in autonomous driving technology and market conditions, Mando will begin mass-production of future products currently under development.
IAA 2019 forecasts a delay in the autonomous driving level-3 phase
The US-China trade dispute has cast an ominous shadow on the performance of German automakers. Mercedes-Benz and BMW elected to reduce their exhibition space at the 2019 International Motor Show Germany. This, however, gave more space for visitors and other major parts companies to use at this year’s Motor Show.
Due to the slow-down in earnings for German automobile manufacturers, some experts at the Motor Show asserted that the autonomous driving level-3 stage will be pushed back.
According to one source, “HERE” - a map company jointly acquired by German automakers - was forced to delay its high-precision mapping project for the Western European and US markets. As recent as early-2018, this mapping project was expected to conclude by the end of 2018. HERE announced that, the postponing of road map projects led by German automobile corporations will push the high-precision mapping project to 2020. This, in turn, is expected to delay the commercialization of autonomous driving level-3 vehicles (originally slated for 2021) by 1~2 years.
From a major parts and components manufacturer’s perspective, Mando will have more time to prepare relevant sensors, autonomous driving platforms, and other driving parts. Although the delay may be costly for automakers, Mando, as a parts manufacturer, will have enough time to bolster the competitiveness of its portfolio of autonomous driving parts.
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Autonomous driving has become an unstoppable force. This was evident in the 2019 International Motor Show Germany, which showcased a myriad of specific solutions developed to accommodate and enhance autonomous driving technology. The vision for autonomous driving and the timeline in which autonomous driving will be commercialized are slightly different. Nevertheless, the consensus is that autonomous driving will become a part of our daily lives soon. In line with the times, critical components in autonomous driving solutions were also undergoing some rapid and drastic changes.
Among the various parts producers, Mando was hailed at this year’s Motor Show for showcasing a number of different products developed based on its proprietary technology. Mando not only exhibited important autonomous driving-related parts it is currently supplying to major automakers around the world, but also a variety of parts for next-generation autonomous driving vehicles. In particular, the demonstration video of “Hockey” (Mando’s autonomous driving vehicle) attracted the attention of plenty of visitors by delivering a condensed version of all the technologies and solutions available at Mando. Thanks to its technical expertise and experience in autonomous driving, Mando has a promising future ahead in the ever-expanding automobiles market.