Listen to this article
Sony Group is developing a sensor for self-driving vehicles that uses 70% less electricity, according to reporting from Nikkei Asia.The sensor will be made by Sony Semiconductor Solution and will be paired with software developed by Tier IV.
Sony plans to lower the amount of electricity needed for the sensors by relying on edge computing. The company plans to process as much data as possible through AI-equipped sensors and software on the vehicle itself, instead of transmitting that information to an external network.
Sony said this approach should make autonomous vehicles safer, as it will shrink communication lags. The company also plans to incorporate image recognition and radar technologies into its sensor to make a self-driving vehicle better equipped for rain, fog or other adverse conditions.
Autonomous vehicles use large amounts of power because of all of the added technology on board, which can result in at least a 35% smaller range for electric vehicles (EVs), according to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. If Sony reaches its goals, it could limit this impact to just around 10%.
Sony has already commercialized edge computing technology in chips for retailers and industrial equipment. The company’s goal is to reduce the amount of power used by an electric vehicle’s on board systems by 70%.
Tier IV is a startup backed by Sompo Holdings that creates open-source software for autonomous vehicles. The company’s software is used by Yamaha Motor and in the EV operations of Foxconn. The company hopes to develop basic self-driving technology with Sony for use in Japan and overseas.
The project will be overseen by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization under the ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Slowly, the autonomous vehicle industry has been making progress in getting autonomous cars on the roads. Last month, Cruise hit a new milestone by charging for its first robotaxi rides in San Francisco, a city that’s become popular testing ground for the technology.
Many autonomous vehicle developers, however, focus on increasing battery capacity instead of trying to decrease the amount of power used by the system. Sony’s approach could make electric vehicles easier to use for autonomous operations.