An expert from the Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI) advises leading developers in Taiwan, central to Taiwan’s drive as a top global destination for semiconductor makers, to focus their focus on mechatronics in their pursuit of advanced driver assistance (ADS) for the cars of the future. . This should put these manufacturers in the front seat of technology as it leads to changing the business landscape.
Annie Shih, deputy section head of the Center for International Strategy for Industry, Science and Technology at ITRI, explained that while developing driver assistance technology, major automakers are also working on techniques used in unmanned aerial vehicles and robots. She advised leading developers in Taiwan to get involved in mechatronics development.
Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering in the design of products and manufacturing processes. Robotics is a subset of mechatronics, which means all robots are mechatronics. Specifically, Shih cited the following shared technologies currently being explored by major global automakers as worthy of attention:
- movement for several vehicles
- freight transport
- robot expedition
- navigation in the environment
- transmission of information
These are called shared technologies because they are both explored by the core technologies of autonomous driving and autonomous mobile robots (AMR). Many robotics experts have explored the development of autonomous driving systems.
As defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), driving automation can be divided into six levels defined by the level of independence a human driver obtains from a system, namely:
- Level 0 to 2: The vehicle is controlled by a human driver while engaging one or more levels of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
- Level 3 to 5: The vehicle is driven by autonomous driving functions.
The higher the level of automation, the greater the challenge for developers. To date, even delivering a system capable of mastering Level 3 can be challenging for developers. Some manufacturers aim to reach levels 4 and 5 and are currently developing ADAS for buses.
AMRs are already in the market and demand for AMRs has increased, but driverless technology has matured more slowly along a similar development trajectory. These technologies are also crucial for the development of autonomous driving systems (ADS) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) networks, so many developers are using AMRs as preliminary platforms to test and verify related technologies, have revealed industry sources. Moreover, the basic technologies of robotics and autonomous driving (eg sensors, batteries, communications and interconnected systems) are similar.
An AMR, in this sense, is practically next-level technology. Basically, it’s an unmanned vehicle. It does not need tracks like a train or tram, but instead moves through its surroundings using automated positioning and navigation technologies. In addition, it is equipped with optical, imaging, ultrasonic and infrared sensors, as well as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology, so that it can orient itself, navigate around obstacles and plan the best possible routes.
And technology is advancing. An AMR can be treated as a small driverless car that can carry objects or passengers. Over the years, the speed of a typical AMR has increased from 6-7 km/h to 60-70 km/h.
The automotive industry is already preparing. A major European car manufacturer in 2015 developed “intelligent transport robots” (STRs) to take over the handling of goods and internal logistics in all its factories. Similarly, a Korean automaker acquired a well-known American robot maker.
This is not the first time ITRI has set the tone for Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the government-funded nonprofit research company with offices around the world has signed an agreement to bring digital health to Asia, making the island nation a launchpad.