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Hitachi eyes autonomous driving market

Aussie link: On a very different scale to the Infiniti sedan used to demonstrate Hitachi’s autonomous technologies are these mammoth autonomous mining trucks, currently on trial in Queensland.

Japan demo reveals Hitachi’s aim to become top autonomous driving tech supplier

17 Oct 2014

THE automotive division of Japanese technology conglomerate Hitachi unveiled a set of systems aimed at securing a position as a supplier to the growing autonomous driving market last week.

A report in Automotive News says Hitachi Automotive Systems plans to market a hands-free automated parking system in 2016 and is readying other technologies including automatic collision mitigation and avoidance braking, adaptive cruise control and stability control systems specifically for electric vehicles.

The company also has big ambitions to become a leading supplier of components that go into electric and hybrid drivetrains.

According to the report, Hitachi’s latest autonomous driving systems combine its existing technologies to deliver increased functionality.

Hitachi aims to offer these technology bundles to car-makers as a “one-size-fits-all package” that delivers benefits that drivers can appreciate during day-to-day driving rather than only during emergencies that might never happen.

An example of linked Hitachi systems was demonstrated with a self-parking Infiniti sedan that could move itself into a parallel and perpendicular spaces without the driver touching the steering wheel or pedals (most existing systems require the driver to control vehicle speed and forward/backward direction).

In addition, the system – combining Hitachi’s camera, power steering and brake controller technologies – stopped the car if an obstacle such as a pedestrian got in the way before resuming the manoeuvre once the area was clear.

Another Hitachi product combined a stereo camera mounted in the windscreen – like Subaru’s EyeSight system – with four fish-eye cameras, a head-up display and actuators for the engine, steering and brakes.

This driver assistance package is designed to provide long-range hazard detection and autonomous emergency braking to avoid obstacles not noticed by the driver.

When linked to Hitachi’s adaptive cruise control system, the system also irons out the abrupt reactions typical of existing systems during cornering by monitoring the road ahead, lateral acceleration and steering angle to calculate throttle inputs.

Hitachi’s stability control system for electric vehicles is designed to improve traction in slippery conditions and to provide the advantages of a limited slip differential.

Australia has a link to Hitachi’s autonomous technologies through the mining industry as a three-year trial of gigantic autonomous Hitachi dump trucks began in April last year as the Meandu Mine in Queensland.

The dump trucks use an advanced GPS system controlling the location, speed and direction of all autonomous and manned vehicles in the area, can identify haul roads, intersections and areas such as loading zones, stockpiles and crushers and are able to precisely control their speed to help them negotiate steep inclines.

Automotive News report says the goal of Hitachi Automotive Systems CEO Kunihiko Ohnuma is for these systems, along with fuel-efficiency technologies, to help the company gain more non-Japanese customers and boost global sales.

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