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Taiwan Semiconductors Manufacturers to Explore Robotics for Advanced Driver Assistance

An expert from Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is advising Taiwan’s foremost developers, the heart of Taiwan’s drive as a leading semiconductor manufacturer global destination, to focus their attention on mechatronics in their pursuit of Advanced Driver Assistance (ADS) for cars in the future. Doing so should put these manufacturers on the front seat of the technology as it drives to change the business landscape.

Annie Shih, Deputy Section Chief of the Industry, Science, and Technology International Strategy Center at ITRI detailed that while developing driving assistance technology, major automakers also work on techniques used in unmanned aerial vehicles and robots. She has advised Taiwan’s premier developers to get involved in mechatronic 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 mean all robots are mechatronic. Specifically, Shih cited the following shared technologies currently being explored by the world’s leading car manufacturers as worth the attention:

  • motion for multiple vehicles
  • goods transport
  • robot dispatching
  • environment navigation
  • information transmission

These are called shared technologies as these are both explored by core technologies of autonomous driving and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). Many robotics experts have explored the development of autonomous driving systems.

According to the definition by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), driving automation can be divided into six levels defined by the level of independence a human driver gets 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 (ADASs).
  • Level 3 to 5: The vehicle is steered by autonomous driving features.

The higher the level of automation goes, the more challenging for developers. To date, even delivering a system that can master level 3 can be challenging for developers. Some automakers aim to reach levels 4 and 5 and are currently developing ADASs for buses.

AMRs are already on the market and the demand for AMRs has been rising, but driverless technology has been maturing more slowly along a similar development trajectory. Such technologies are also crucial for developing autonomous driving systems (ADSs) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) networks, so many developers utilize AMRs as preliminary platforms to test and verify related technologies, industry sources disclosed. Moreover, the core technologies of robotics and autonomous driving (e.g., sensors, batteries, communications, and interconnected systems) are similar.

An AMR, in this sense, is practically a next-level technology. At its core, it is an uncrewed vehicle. It does not require rails like a train or tram but rather moves through its environment using automated positioning and navigation technologies. Plus, it is equipped with optical, imaging, ultrasonic, and infrared sensors, as well as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology, so it can orient itself, bypass obstacles, and plan the best possible routes.

And the technology is progressing. 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 6-7km/hour to 60-70km/hour.

The car manufacturing industry is already gearing up. A European major carmaker in 2015 developed “smart transport robots” (STR) to support goods handling and internal logistics throughout its factories. Similarly, a Korean car manufacturer has acquired a renowned American robot maker.

It’s not the first time ITRI is setting the pace for Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the government-funded non-profit research firm with offices around the world has inked a deal to introduce digital health into Asia effectively making the island nation a launchpad.

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