The demand for advanced driver assistance systems is surging, according to Bosch, which says it pocketed almost $4 billion last year from supplying the technology.
The company is developing a range of hardware and software solutions for what it calls automated driving, and one of them is an onboard artificial intelligence-driven computer, which will go into production within the next few years.
ADAS is often seen as autonomous – or driverless – car technology, except it’s integrated into cars already being purchased in large numbers today.
The reason why these cars equipped with ADAS are not thought of as “fully” autonomous is because they are primarily meant to be driven by a human being, who is held legally responsible for the operation of the car at all times, even when the ADAS takes over some manoeuvres.
There is much discussion about the legal implications of fully autonomous cars, and there are also numerous changes taking place in the insurance market as a result of the increasing autonomy of cars.
There is a long list of features which may be included in ADAS systems, and there are six levels of automation as defined by the engineers association SAE.
Dr Dirk Hoheisel, Bosch’s board member in charge of mobility issues, says the demand for ADAS is huge.
In a presentation yesterday, Hoheisel said Bosch currently has 3,000 of its personnel working on automated driving.
He said: “As the basis for automated driving, driver assistance systems are a fast growing area of business for Bosch.
“It was only in 2016 that our sales in this area first passed the billion-euro mark – while orders last year were worth €3.5 billion. Unit sales of our radar sensors alone will grow 60 percent this year, and those of video sensors by 80 percent.”
But now Bosch is adding to the technologies by introducing more computing hardware and software capabilities into the mix.
“Now we’re moving beyond sensor technology, and extending our expertise in the area of artificial intelligence,” said Hoheisel.
“To achieve this, we will be investing €300 million in the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence over the next five years. This center will employ some 100 experts at locations in India, the US, and Germany.”
Hoheisel says there are three key areas of development for Bosch as far as highly automated driving is concerned:
- understanding: the car has to know what its sensors are detecting – like a human being, a computer with artificial intelligence first has to learn;
- decision-making: enabling the car to make decisions based on their understanding of their surroundings, acquired through their sensors; and
- map-reading: Bosch is partnering with companies such as TomTom, AutoNavi, Baidu and NavInfo on developing a mapping system which will constantly updated.
For all of these and other related automated driving technologies, “data will play a crucial role”, said Hoheisel, who added that “accident-free driving” is Bosch’s ultimate objective.
“The key to this is our AI onboard computer,” he said.