Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives


Continental expands advanced driver assistance systems business in Asia

Continental is expanding its advanced driver assistance systems business in Asia and expects sales to reach $2.2 billion a year by 2020.

The company says it is on course to achieve €1 billion in sales this year, and is aiming to capitalise on this growth by developing its Asian operations.

Continental says it will increase production capacity for radar sensors in the Philippines and China, and accelerate its knowledge transfer and staff expansion.

Continental is estimated to be the market leader in advanced driver assistance systems, which is in essence autonomous car technology.

Asia remains the number one growth market for the automotive industry – and the numbers are impressive: Over 50 percent of all vehicles produced worldwide come from Asian car manufacturers and approximately 30 percent of all vehicles manufactured worldwide come from Japanese automakers car manufacturers.

Ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japanese vehicle manufacturers are also amongst the automotive companies that are pushing the development of innovations in advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving.

The ADAS business unit of the international technology company Continental is also profiting from the dynamics in Asia. Continental began research on driver assistance systems 20 years ago – and today the company claims it is “ideally positioned” because of what it says are its core skills in assisted and automated driving, such as cameras, radar systems, high-resolution laser sensors, electronic control units and software.

Moreover, it has longstanding business relationships with original equipment manufacturers, especially automakers.

Karl Haupt, head of the Continental ADAS business unit
Karl Haupt, head of the Continental ADAS business unit

Karl Haupt, head of the Continental ADAS business unit, says: “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems is our strongest growth area. This year we will achieve sales of well over one billion euros thanks to our surrounding sensors. In 2020, we expect to exceed two billion in sales, which equates to a further doubling in just five years.

“Much of this sales growth is driven by Japanese manufacturers – but we still see strong growth potential in China and with Chinese OEMs. We expect to achieve around one billion in sales with Asian OEMs by 2018.”

Strengthening development capacities in Japan and India

Continental is particularly focusing on strengthening the development of local capacities through the transfer of increased responsibility, competence and know-how. In Japan alone, the number of development engineers has quadrupled in the past three years. All Japanese manufacturers are also managed directly from Japan.

At the beginning of this year, the Toyota Motor Corporation awarded its Annual Technology and Development Award to the Continental ADAS business unit for the second time, this time honoring the contribution of the Multi Function Camera with Lidar to Toyota’s active safety package, “Toyota Safety Sense C”.

Meanwhile, more than 10 Toyota models worldwide are equipped with the Continental sensor module.

In addition to Japan, the Continental  ADAS business unit also focuses on India as a location for its engineering activities in Asia. In India, the business unit develops software and algorithms for advanced driver assistance systems.

Norbert Hammerschmidt, head of the Continental ADAS business unit in Asia, says: “The strong growth trend is continuing unabated in Asia and more than 1,000 of our people work here, 70 percent of whom are in Engineering. This underlines the importance of the Asian market and the Asian manufacturers.

“For our latest technologies and innovations, we can draw from a huge pool of skilled talent and offer excellent services worldwide.”

Increase in production capacity for radar sensors in the Philippines and in China

One core element of Continental’s strategy is a high degree of localization. The company’s slogan here is “in the market for the market”.

To meet the growing demand of Asian vehicle manufacturers for surrounding sensors, production of short-range radar sensors was launched in Calamba in the Philippines towards the end of 2015.

Short-range radar sensors perform functions like Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Assist.

Driving forces include legal requirements, but the customers’ demands for more safety and comfort are also of key importance.

Additionally, the production of the Multi Function Camera with Lidar will be launched in autumn this year.

The plan is to produce over 10 million short range radar sensors and 1 million camera systems in Calamba in the future.

In China, the number of vehicles is keeping pace with the rapid growth of the Chinese economy.

Increased focus is also being placed on vehicle safety, which is one of the most important factors in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers.

To address this trend and strengthen Continental’s ADAS presence in China, a new management position was created and Neil Tang was announced as the first head of ADAS business unit China.

Along with the new head of ADAS engineering China, another new position was also filled to further expand the local presence and to supervise series projects together with international and Chinese vehicle manufacturers.

A further milestone is the launch of long-range radar sensor production for various customers, planned for 2018 in Shanghai. The goal is to produce several million sensors annually.

Assisted and automated driving – on the road to ‘Vision Zero’

Continental says the key to “zero accidents” is the development from assisted to automated driving. Advanced driver assistance systems are already helping to prevent accidents, or at the very least to mitigate their consequences, claims the company.

ADAS helps the driver to perform his driving tasks and assist him in the safe and efficient operation of the vehicle. When the vehicle is in the automated driving mode, the results achieved by these increasingly intelligent surrounding sensors show that the vehicle reacts faster than a human driver to traffic situations, that it completely ignores potential distractions and that it drives more safely than a human being ever could.

Continental develops the necessary components and systems for automated driving all over the world, in Europe and the USA, in Japan and in China – and 2014 saw Continental receive permission to test its automated driving systems on public roads in Japan for the first time.

The company has its own test center for development and testing in Mombetsu on Hokkaido Island in northern Japan.

With the development of another vehicle for China, Continental recently increased its global testing and development capabilities yet again. The Chinese team is responsible for the development of components and algorithms as well as the validation of automated driving systems and functions in China locally.