Mitsubishi is a titan of Japanese industry, a manufacturer of everything from space rockets to rice cookers. Mitsubishi is also one of Japan’s key defense contractors, building the Type 10 main battle tank and Soryu-class attack submarine. Its AAM-4B medium range air-to-air missile was the first with an advanced electronically scanned array radar, making it even more advanced than the American AMRAAM missile.
Now Mitsubishi wants to get into self-driving cars, and it reckons that its military technology will give it a leg up on the competition.
Mitsubishi Electric—the division responsible for developing the AAM-4B—is planning on using sensors developed for defense applications to give autonomous cars the eyes and ears to navigate the road. Components such as millimeter-wave radars, sonars, sensors and cameras — some of which were developed to guide missiles — are being adapted for use in self-driving vehicles that will hit the roads by 2020.
Mitsubishi will begin production of the components for lane-keeping and automatic braking systems in the year starting April 2017.
The Japanese company will combine the sensing technologies with its quasi-zenith satellite system that would send up-to-date location data to vehicles, Adachi said. Mitsubishi will have three more such satellites in geosynchronous orbit over Japan by around 2018 to gather data round the clock
Mitsubishi, which demonstrated an autonomous driving prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show last year after starting development of driver-assistance technologies two years back, was encouraged by the demand for the EyeSight system in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand, according to Adachi. Subaru’s system combines lane-keeping steering assistance, pre-collision braking control and adaptive cruise control to enhance safety.