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Key developments in the Asian market | Interview with Ron Mueller

Ahead of his participation at IS Auto Asia 2019, we spoke to Ron Mueller, CEO of Vision Markets and Associate Consultant at Smithers Apex.

A world-renowned image sensors expert, Ron spoke to us ahead of IS Auto Asia about key developments in the Asian market, key considerations for succeeding in Asia, new technologies, challenges faced and much more. Take a look now for exclusive insights into these important topics!

Can you give us an overview of some the key developments in the Asia market and how they differ from what you are seeing in Europe and US?

With China’s decision to push electric cars, there is even more innovation drive in the automotive area that also reaches autonomous driving. In Germany, where traffic rules are comprehensively defined and strictly enforced, there are major concerns about the phase where human-driven and self-driving cars are populating the road and self-driving cars need to cope with the often unpredictable behaviour of human drivers. In China traffic rules and driving styles are way more lose, so that challenge for self-driving cars is even greater.

At the same time, China has the advantage that much more monitoring and communication infrastructure is in place already, which is generally helpful for connected cars and autonomous driving. For a very long time, we will be seeing SAE Level 4 cars in Asia, where the human drivers can take over in dense, chaotic traffic situations.

As in other market areas, the price pressure and size of the market for automotive vision will drive image senor, optics, and camera OEMs to develop “good-enough” solutions to the benefit of other automotive markets worldwide.

For camera developers what are the key considerations for succeeding in the Asia market?

Automotive camera OEMS need to invest in teams of own engineers which support the evaluation and integration of their products into new car models. Design-to-cost is even more important even if this means that the functionality cannot be provided in challenging weather or lighting conditions. Chinese drivers tend to be more modest than customers in Europe or North America.

Which new automotive imaging technologies are you most interested in learning more about at the conference?

I am looking forward to learn more about the currently available High Dynamic Range technologies as well as micro-optics, sensor interfaces for automotive, and software algorithms to get the most out of low-cost hardware.

At the same time, learning more about the requirements of Chinese Car OEMs and the plans of the Chinese Government is of great interest!

What are the biggest technology challenges on the road to autonomous vehicles?

As stated in the report “Autonomous Vehicle Image Sensors to 2023”  the top challenges for image sensors of autonomous cars remain unchanged: The strict limitation of the sensor sizes to around 2/3rd optical format, defined by the automotive design departments, combined with the most unpredictable and demanding lighting conditions of low sun, tunnel entries and exits, daylight and low-light at night creates massive technical challenges in the pixel and readout circuit design. High Dynamic Range with single exposure and low-light sensitivity while providing a high spatial resolution in compact format remains the key challenge for image sensors. Once good image data can be provided the real challenge still lies in the machine-learning based processing of the data to understand risks and make driving decisions, left alone the enormous effort to validate such systems. Yet, first fully-autonomous cars are successfully populating on the roads in defined areas, partly using standard machine vision cameras. The market is huge, the added value for future challenges in mobility is massive – there will be solutions developed by best-in-class engineers.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

Apart from learning about the new technologies and market requirements, this conference will be an unparalleled opportunity to bring the Asian automotive imaging community together. As with the other annual Image Sensor Auto conferences in Germany and US, it is amazing to see the network, partnerships and close collaborations between industry players evolve from such an event. Shenzhen is the optimal starting point for bringing all the Asian experts together.

Ron will be chairing the event this September. View the full programme here to find out more.