Highlight from Integrated Report
Autonomous technology for cars, ships and other modes of transport is attracting growing interest. As technology improves, autonomous systems have the potential to cut traffic accidents and reduce energy used in transport. Nisshinbo is bringing together existing technologies from across the Group and refining its expertise in ADAS and other technologies for autonomous land, sea and air transport. Our goal is to help improve safety and reduce environmental impact.
- JRC Mobility Inc. Interview with the President
- High-precision Positioning Services
- Transport Infrastructure
- Autonomous Ship Operation
- Cooperation with ZMP
JRC Mobility Inc.
Interview with the President
- Why did Nisshinbo set up JRC Mobility?
Until now, Nisshinbo has developed its ADAS* business using a Groupwide approach, drawing on automotive-related technologies from various parts of the Group, such as the communications equipment business run by Japan Radio Co., Ltd. However, with Level 4 autonomous driving on track to become a reality by 2025, we need to accelerate our development projects. We also need to establish a manufacturing system that satisfies the quality, cost and delivery (QCD) demands of automakers. Given those requirements, we decided to create an independent company focused on the mobility field by spinning off relevant divisions from Japan Radio’s communications equipment business, aiming to make decision-making faster and more flexible.
We are using a two-stage process for the spin off. First, we are transferring divisions responsible for developing
high-performance millimeter-wave radar and ultrasound sensors for automotive applications. Next, we plan to transfer all existing automotive products such as electronic toll collection (ETC) devices and GPS equipment to JRC Mobility by January 2020.
* Advanced driver assistance systems
- Tell us about the current state of Nisshinbo’s automotive-related operations.
- Japan Radio develops and supplies ETC devices used on roads in Japan. In April 2018, the company won an order to develop devices for the next generation of road toll collection systems, with potential applications in Japan and overseas markets.
We plan to double output of ETC devices in a few years’ time when development work is completed. We think the new ETC devices have enormous potential, as they are based on a next-generation system that could be adopted by many countries around the world.
Meanwhile, we started real-world testing of DSSS*1 at two locations in Japan from 2018. Over time, the systems will be installed at several thousand major intersections. We also began installing and operating traffic counters*2 this year. We expect highway authorities to steadily adopt Japan Radio’s millimeter-wave radars, which are relatively unaffected by environmental conditions.
- *1 Driving safety support systems: Transmit information about road conditions, traffic lights and other traffic data to drivers at intersections and other locations to prevent accidents.
- *2 Installed on expressways and at other sites, traffic counters monitor vehicle volume and identify cars driving in the wrong direction.
- How do you intend to generate synergies with the Nisshinbo Group?
In addition to automobile brakes, the Nisshinbo Group has a wide range of automotive-related businesses anchored by strong relationships built on trust with users in the automotive sector. The precision instruments business manufactures metal and plastic parts for vehicles and the chemicals business supplies bipolar plates for fuel cells. There are also potential synergies with analog chip supplier New Japan Radio Co., Ltd. in IC sourcing and other technologies.
In June 2017, Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. invested in ZMP Inc., which is developing autonomous robots, drones and other mobility equipment using camera-based sensing technology. We see new opportunities by combining our sensors and communications technology with ZMP’s expertise in autonomous operation.
Safety and security are two other areas where the Nisshinbo Group can provide value to society. Backed by our new business set up, we plan to strengthen our ability to develop and launch new products, aiming to make an even greater contribution to society in the automotive field and across the full spectrum of mobility, such as ships and aircraft.
High-precision Positioning Services
To make autonomous vehicles a reality, positioning services need to be more accurate than ever before. Today’s GPS systems are accurate to within 10 meters. Replacing those systems with high-precision positioning technology that improve accuracy to a few centimeters would enable autonomous vehicles to determine their current road lane using only satellite positioning. That kind of technology is likely to be in high demand from a wide range of fields. Japan Radio Co., Ltd. is developing a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) chip that receives signals from the quasi-zenith satellite system (QZSS). The GNSS receiver chips will play a vital role in realizing new high-precision positioning services. We plan to start shipping sample chips in autumn 2018. To promote the new services overseas, Japan Radio became one of the founding shareholders in Global Positioning Augmentation Service Corporation (GPAS) in June 2017.
The new company is tasked with establishing key technologies to support a range of positioning services for the super smart society, including autonomous cars, agricultural machinery and construction equipment, as well as for marine and weather forecasting.
How GPAS Services Will Work
1 Ground monitoring stations around the world gather observational data from global navigation satellites
2 Using the data, errors in satellite orbits and clocks are accurately calculated
3 Corrected data is transmitted to users via QZSS*
4 Data distribution via the Internet is also possible
5 Transmitted data is used to calculate the position of the user, enabling positioning services accurate to within a few centimeters
* Quasi-Zenith Satellite System
The Japanese government is rapidly working to create safer transport infrastructure using information and communication technology (ICT). The aim is to cut the number of fatalities from traffic accidents to less than 2,500 in 2018 and build the world's safest road network by 2020. As part of that push, Japan Radio is developing a driving safety support system (DSSS). The system is designed to reduce traffic accidents and improve driving efficiency by using sensors to detect pedestrians and other dangers and transmit warnings wirelessly to drivers.
Using its existing radar sensing technology, Japan Radio has also started supplying traffic counters and systems to detect vehicles driving in the wrong direction. Japan Radio’s detection equipment incorporates radar sensing technologies originally developed for marine and weather applications. Compared with existing camera-based equipment, the company’s products are compact, competitively priced, and perform better at nighttime and under difficult weather conditions such as fog. They are also less affected by glare and color contrast issues.
Autonomous Ship Operation
Autonomous ship operation offers many potential benefits, such as fewer collisions, improved ship operation and lower crewing costs. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is supporting a number of projects to advance its i-Shipping concept, which aims to revolutionize productivity in the maritime sector. Under the projects, companies in the sector are developing new technologies and services. Japan Radio is developing a number of core technologies, such as collision avoidance maneuvering technology and a ship-to-shore information sharing system that uses satellite links and a VHF data exchange system (VDES). The company is aiming to achieve semi autonomous ship operation by 2022 and full autonomous operation by 2030. Autonomous operation has the potential to improve safety and reduce environmental impact by increasing fuel efficiency through optimal route planning.
Cooperation with ZMP
In June 2017, Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. invested in ZMP Inc. to promote collaboration in autonomous technology for cars and other modes of transport, an area where ZMP has a high level of technical expertise. ZMP sells and leases platforms to develop autonomous technologies and is also developing a wireless electroencephalogram sensor and other new products.
The company’s experiments with robot cargo trolleys and autonomous delivery robots for office buildings and other facilities have been attracting attention. We intend to step up cooperation with ZMP to identify new autonomous operation applications in various modes of transport for the Group’s existing portfolio of ICT and sensing technologies.