THE NEW VALUE FRONTIER
Interview

ADAS Contributing to Safe, Secure Roads
Taking on the Autonomous Driving Industry

Mobility
Introduction

Toward a World with Zero Traffic Accidents
Developing Technology for Autonomous Vehicles

Due to Japan’s aging population, the percentage of car accidents involving senior citizens is on the rise*1, and people have become more concerned about this issue in recent years.

Meanwhile, the increasing number of citizens who can’t drive has led to a so-called “blank traffic area” phenomenon.*2 When citizens in underpopulated and other areas can no longer drive their own vehicles, and when logistics and public transportation services stagnate due to labor shortages, access to critical infrastructure lifelines in some areas could be completely cut off. This is what is known as a blank traffic area.

As such, ADAS and autonomous driving technologies are widely expected to help solve these societal issues. These technologies are garnering attention not only for private vehicles but also for buses and other public transport, as well as for trucks and the logistics industry.

The ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory at Kyocera is leading the company’s development of radars, stereo cameras, LIDAR, AI recognition cameras, and other devices and systems essential for the creation of autonomous vehicles. Seeking to reduce the number of traffic accidents, and enable seniors to live with peace of mind even in areas without efficient public transportation, Kyocera is moving forward with the development of sensing products and systems to aid autonomous vehicles.

Reference material
*1: Cabinet Office Website: Feature—Preventing Traffic Accidents Involving Senior Citizens (https://www8.cao.go.jp/koutu/taisaku/h29kou_haku/gaiyo/features/feature01.html) (*Japanese Only)
*2: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; Kinki District Transportation Bureau Website: The Current State of Regional Public Transport (https://wwwtb.mlit.go.jp/kinki/content/000010186.pdf) (*Japanese Only)

Technology Data
Blind Spot Detection,Cross-Traffic Alerts,Parking Assistance,Free Space Detection
Multifunctional Millimeter-Wave Radar

An Essential Device for Autonomous Vehicles

Multifunctional millimeter-wave radar devices are essential for various situations regarding autonomous vehicles. They can detect and help monitor blind spots, assist with reverse parking, provide cross-traffic alerts when exiting parking lots, and detect free space.

Camera-LIDAR Fusion Sensor

Sensing Technology Outperforming the Human Eye

LIDAR sensors function as the “eye” for autonomous vehicles. Combining these sensors with cameras and integrating their data will vastly improve the precision of object detection.

Making object and free space detection a reality
AI Camera

Making Object and Free Space Detection a Reality

Conventional car-mounted cameras are not able to detect multiple objects simultaneously. Currently under development, Kyocera’s innovative new AI camera module uses deep learning, and with a single, compact lens just a few square centimeters in size, can detect vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians. It can also detect free space, which indicates the area in which the vehicle can move.

01

Kyocera’s Unique Strength Lies in its Diverse Research Fields

Among the various ADAS and autonomous driving technologies it is currently developing, Kyocera is placing particular focus on millimeter-wave radar. Here the senior manager from Kyocera’s ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory speaks to two junior researchers about this technology.
  • Senior Manager
    ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory
    Advanced Technology Research Institute
    Corporate R&D Group
  • AI Camera Development Engineer
    R&D Section 1,
    ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory
    Advanced Technology Research Institute
  • Stereo Camera Development Engineer
    R&D Section 2,
    ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory
    Advanced Technology Research Institute
  • We are currently involved in the development of several technologies for autonomous vehicles. Why is the team placing such special importance on millimeter-wave radar?

  • We believe millimeter-wave radar could be the key technology for preventing crashes. We want to create a system based on this radar whereby the vehicle uses AI and other technologies to automatically avoid crashes.

  • Our competitors are also actively developing millimeter-wave radar devices. What makes Kyocera stand out from the rest?

  • One of our strengths is the ability to apply the antenna and adaptive array* technologies we accumulated in our development of base stations. That is to say, we can draw from technologies we’ve amassed in other fields when proceeding with development.

    • *Adaptive array : Technology that controls the direction (extends the range) of wave transmissions and removes interference from wave receptions through adaptive control of multiple antenna arrays.
  • So it’s because Kyocera is involved in so many different businesses that we can go about R&D like this.
    We’re also researching ways to combine cameras and LIDAR. Is this also a technology unique to Kyocera?

  • It is. What we’re trying to do now is develop a sensor that combines camera and LIDAR, and embeds accurate three-dimensional information onto the images captured by the camera. So it makes use of both technologies.
    If autonomous driving does become a reality, then we believe that LIDAR sensors will be paramount. But we don’t want to use only LIDAR; we hope to install multiple cameras around the vehicle to combine both information from the cameras and information from the LIDAR sensors. Both make use of optical systems, and so we’re researching how to accurately coordinate the two so there are no discrepancies, and correctly obtain the positional information of objects.

  • Our camera technology comes from our optics division. I believe the fact that we can create a camera from scratch and combine it with LIDAR is a real strength of Kyocera.

  • I agree. With our wide-ranging technologies as a core strength, we’re aiming to become a unique presence in the ADAS market.
    Moving on, at the ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory we’re making efforts to ensure that our newer employees are actively engaged in R&D. How do both of you feel about the research in your respective fields? Have you come across any stumbling blocks?

  • I’m in charge of AI automotive camera development, and I’m struggling with ways to increase reliability. Due to the very nature of the product, any oversights could directly lead to an accident. We have to look at how to increase the precision of pedestrian and vehicle recognition. To commercialize the product, we must predict various situations, repeatedly carry out tests, and eliminate any weak points. This is a huge task, so I’m worried that it will take some time before we can have people actually use the product.

  • The difficulty with stereo cameras, which I’m in charge of developing, is that the recording environment is not always the same. For example, if the temperature inside a car rises too much, minor changes in the shape of the camera can lead to inaccurate positional detection and ruin the camera’s ability to detect objects. This can also lead to detection errors. Changes in the car temperature make it difficult to maintain accuracy with our cameras.

  • Both of your concerns are perfectly understandable. Technologies that sustain ADAS must not have any faults. Some say that this isn’t possible, but we still have to think about how to achieve perfection. This is an obstacle we have to overcome if we are to achieve Kyocera’s goal of realizing a world without traffic accidents.

02

Applying Our Next Generation’s Creativity
Taking a Multifaceted Approach Toward Future R&D

The ADAS Technology R&D Laboratory is also engaged in the development of various sensing technologies. Even if some of their functions overlap, the laboratory is conducting research on and developing a wide range of devices with a view toward the future, be it three, five, or ten years down the line. Until these autonomous driving technologies are perfected, in each phase of development a vast amount of research needs to take place so the technology can respond to any situation. What does the development team leader expect of these junior employees as they carry Kyocera’s R&D into the future?
  • Up until now, Kyocera has mostly manufactured individual devices, such as sensors. Looking ahead, we hope to apply our diverse technologies to create systems, and thereby offer integrated solutions. We also hope to use Kyocera’s technologies not only for private vehicles, but to open up entirely new businesses, including commercial vehicles, mobility vehicles, personal mobility vehicles, and even agricultural devices.

  • It’s important to go about development looking five- or ten- years into the future. We also have to look past simply combining technologies, and successively incorporate new technologies.
    Of course, it’s vital to focus on technologies that are required here and now, but one of our most important missions is to do what no one else has done — we have to discover new products and technologies for the future and fulfill our societal role as Kyocera Corporation. Kyocera is the perfect place for people with new ideas to bring their free-spirited innovations into reality.

  • This is why I’m focusing my efforts on AI. I’m involved in the development of AI recognition cameras. We hope to use Kyocera’s expertise in combining technologies to miniaturize devices and create a compact, highly reliable camera that accurately recognizes pedestrians and vehicles.

  • The reason we continue to conduct our research, I believe, comes down to our desire to eliminate traffic accidents and create autonomous systems that can solve labor shortage issues in public transport and logistics. I hope you’ll always keep this in mind as you continue your research.

  • Goals like these are essential. If we come across any issues during development, we can always look back to the reason we began in the first place.

  • New employees have completely different ideas compared to those who have been in R&D for ten or 20 years. I want you all to value your ideas and keep developing them. I also want you to have the desire to look outside the company and absorb technologies from external sources. It’s important that you have no fear of failure, especially early in your career; I look forward to seeing you embrace Kyocera’s spirit of innovation and continue growing as engineers.

  • Kyocera boasts a culture that is accepting of failures when trying something new. I won’t hesitate to keep trying new things, and I’ll aim to build up as many successful projects as possible.

  • Technology is rapidly advancing across the board, not only in the ADAS market. I hope to keep my eyes open for new technologies, even in fields beyond my own, and when they arise, look at them and consider how to incorporate them into my own research.

Message

Using Kyocera’s Unique Technological Strengths and Ability to Adapt to Market Changes to Contribute to a World with Zero Traffic Accidents

Aiming to create a society with zero traffic accidents, Kyocera is conducting research and development on a broad range of automotive sensing technologies. Mass production for the mobility sector, which requires absolute safety, has many hurdles. However, with the ability to apply its accumulated know-how and technology, and a strong tradition of taking on new challenges, Kyocera will continue to evolve its technological capabilities to contribute to the creation of a safe, secure mobility society.