Foxconn electric vehicles will take on Tesla with autonomous driving technology

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TOKYO – Foxconn’s electric vehicle platform will feature similar driver assistance technology to that used by Tesla and Nissan Motor when it launches this year, with plans for a higher level of autonomous capability in 2022 , said a Japanese tech official involved in the project. says Nikkei Asia.

The plans highlight how Foxconn, better known as an assembler of consumer electronics, hopes to challenge established carmakers with its MIH “open platform EV” project, which aims to produce a “kit”, including software and hardware. that can help new electric vehicle manufacturers evolve. go up quickly.

Shinpei Kato, founder and chief technology officer of the Japanese autonomous driving startup Tier IV, which is part of the Foxconn project and runs its autonomous driving software, said in an interview that the EV kit released in October will provide an advanced driver of level 2 – assistance systems (ADAS). This level provides automated steering, braking and acceleration for cruising and lane changes to assist the driver.

Level 4 autonomous driving – defined as requiring no human involvement under limited conditions – is expected to be incorporated into the next version of the kit slated for 2022, Kato added. That’s when the open source Tier IV operating system for driverless cars, called Autoware, will be ready, he said.

“MIH will begin to launch the system which is already commercialized in the market so that it can be sold immediately without legal issues,” Kato said, referring to the legal framework still under development in various countries necessary to ensure safe driving. autonomous level 4. “But like Tesla, computers [for the first EV Kit] will be designed to allow system scaling up to level 4, ”Kato added.

A taxi equipped with autonomous driving software for which the level IV Japan-led development is preparing for a test drive in Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of Level IV)

Cadillac’s Super Cruise and Nissan’s ProPilot 2.0 are examples of ADAS technologies, both of which allow hands-off driving – the car automatically following the vehicle in front – while the driver needs to be careful. These conventional driver assistance systems often lack scalability, as they are developed as stand-alone systems. and are unable to connect additional sensors later for more advanced functionality, according to Kato.

Foxconn’s MIH project includes nearly 1,700 partners and is designed to lower barriers to entry into the electric vehicle market, reducing the time and resources required to develop and produce electric cars. Companies involved include mobile chip developers Arm Holdings and Qualcomm, MediaTek, Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and leading battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology.

Foxconn said in a press release in December that Level IV and other MIH alliance partners will “provide level 4 and above autonomous driving technology.” Level IV is responsible for “defining the functional requirements of the software application,” Foxconn said in the release.

When asked to comment, the company told Nikkei Asia that “for reasons of commercial sensitivity, we will only provide specific details on these projects once they are ready for release.”

Foxconn will hold its second members’ meeting on Friday, following the first in March, as MIH prepares to be officially established as a separate operation, starting next month, independent of the world’s largest iPhone assembler.

The Level IV, backed by Japanese insurer Sompo Holdings, is known to provide autonomous driving technology to Toyota Motor’s e-Palette vehicle, which will be used in the Olympic Village during the Tokyo Games in 2020.

Kato said offering an EV package through MIH would allow various EV parts to integrate with the Level IV Autoware, potentially expanding its customer base. To date, only the largest automakers have had the hardware and software design capabilities to integrate with the Autoware system.

“It is quite logical that the positions of the MIH [itself] in the middle, bringing together the hardware and software to create a set of standards, ”he said, explaining the rationale for Tier IV membership.

Formerly known as the Hon Hai Precision Industry, Foxconn is betting on the electric vehicle industry as a new growth driver and aims to capture a 10% share of the global electric vehicle market between 2025 and 2027.

The company announced in May a joint venture with Stellantis, the world’s fourth largest automotive group that owns brands such as Alfa Romeo and Fiat, to develop software. Foxconn also formed a joint venture with Yulon Motor, Taiwan’s second largest automaker, in February last year to develop electric cars. He also announced deals with Chinese electric vehicle maker Byton, Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and US electric vehicle startup Fisker.

Japanese automakers have focused much of their efforts on developing gasoline engines and hybrid vehicles that are fuel efficient and low-emission, instead of electric vehicles. When asked if MIH is approaching Japanese automakers, Kato said this is not on the minds of senior MIH executives, as they believe automakers would naturally be interested in the project.

“Japanese automakers are sitting on the fence right now,” he said. “But MIH believes that as it moves forward, these automakers will spontaneously come to the project.”

Additional reporting by Lauly Li in Taipei



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