Driverless autos lead to new business tie-ups

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Driverless autos lead to new business tie-ups

With car owners demanding more safety and comfort features, automakers are increasingly launching joint projects with leading IT companies.

LG Electronics said Thursday it will jointly develop parts for driverless vehicle systems with German automaker Mercedes-Benz.

The company said it has signed an agreement to jointly develop a Stereo Camera System, which is essential for driverless driving. The system detects potential traffic crises in front of a vehicle and collects traffic information in real time.

The system will have a much wider range of vision than a human driver. It will be able to detect obstacles that a driver could not and will warn the driver if the vehicle strays out of the lane.

The company said the new system will be installed in all Mercedes-Benz driverless vehicles of the future.

As adding high-end safety functions in cars becomes a trend, LG said it intends to expand its presence in the auto parts industry, which is growing fast.

“We have the best visual recognition technology in the world from our IT and home appliance businesses,” said Lee Woo-jong, head of the vehicle components business at LG Electronics.

“With that technology, we will try to develop the best auto parts for one of the world’s best premium car brands, Mercedes-Benz.”

Such joint efforts by an automaker and an electronics company are being seen more often lately.

On Monday, Google unveiled a prototype of a self-driving car known as the “Google Car” on its website. The company said it will run test drives from next year and plans to mass-produce the car between 2017 and 2018.

Google used diverse technologies from the IT industry and the military to develop a system similar to LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), a laser radar that observes and detects the coordinates of objects outside a vehicle.

Using the system, a vehicle detects all necessary information in 3-D, including the lay of the road, surroundings, its direction of movement and speed.

Along with LiDAR, Google also installed a video camera on the interior mirror to detect changes in traffic signals and the movements of other vehicles. It also detects movements of pedestrians and objects like bicycles that can potentially come from any side.

In Korea, Hyundai Motor is leading the driverless car industry. The company’s affiliate Hyundai Mobis said it will develop its own technology by 2020 and has projected to sell parts from 2025.

BY KWON SANG-SOO, LEE SO-AH [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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