China To Deploy Own Chips In Autonomous Cars

The technology has advanced with rapid pace and many auto manufacturers have invested enormously in autonomous vehicles. They have been testing their cars on public roads and trying to launch as soon as they can to gain first mover’s advantage. The testing phase of Uber has been marred by a killing of a pedestrian by its self-driving car in Arizona. However, the company halted its testing operations in other cities. Other tech giants and auto manufacturers have raised their efforts to launch their autonomous cars and set targets for the next decade. Many of manufacturers launched their manufacturing plants in China owing to its huge user base. The most important part of the autonomous car is the chip on which it works, detects obstacles, and performs other necessary functions. China wants to become a leader in manufacturing chips for self-driving vehicles. It aspires to deploy more than 30 million self-driving cars by the next decade. This will result in growth of the chip industry as well.

According to Gartner Inc., the annual revenue generated from chips used in driverless cars would reach $5 billion by 2021 across the world. The startups such as Horizon Robotics Inc. has been trying to build chips to be used in autonomous cars. The company has been competing with Nvidia Corp. and Mobileye NV as the international trade uncertainty increases and the autonomous driving industry booms. Horizon Robotics is a China’s plan for getting ahead in manufacturing value chain by focusing on semiconductors and artificial intelligence for self- driving cars.

“China has to spare no efforts to pick up and develop its own chip technology to improve our own sense of security, especially when the U.S. government is making us fearful about any protectionism against China,” said, Wei Shaojun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Microelectronics at Tsinghua University, at a forum in Shanghai.

According to Bloomberg’s report, President Xi Jinping’s administration has prioritized the self-reliance and set aside a fund of 200 billion-yuan for investments in local chipmakers. Researchers and experts observing the world’s largest electric vehicle market outlined that China wants gain leadership position in development of the chips in autonomous cars. The Chinese government expects the production value of manufacturing chips and sensors would exceed by 100 billion yuan by 2020.

Horizon Robotics have been trying to be at the forefront of the production of chips. Its tiny sized circuit board, Journey 1.0 was installed in a General Motors Co. GMC Yukon XL at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas in January this year. The processor can detect as much as 200 targets such as pedestrians, debris, and lane markings in real time and avoid collisions.

“Chinese companies have been evolving from the positions of made-in-China to created-in-China,” said Yu Kai, the founder of Horizon Robotics Inc. “And now we are heading to invented-in-China.”

The company has collaborated with Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., and Ford Motor Co. Along with this, it has collaborated with parts supplier Robert Bosch GmbH to get inside self-driving vehicles. Leading auto manufacturers have been collaborating with local manufacturers or suppliers to avail benefits that the Chinese government provided to local market players. As all governments have been looking forward to deploying capital, policies, and talents to gain advantage in the self-driving industry, China is not an exception. It is difficult to predict how far it will go, but it has clarified its intentions.