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Horiba to support development of self-driving vehicles

Instrument maker shifts away from tracking emissions with rise of electric cars

Horiba's car-testing facility in Shiga Prefecture.

KYOTO, Japan -- Horiba is broadening its services to automakers to include support for the development of self-driving vehicles.

The Japanese manufacturer of precision instruments for measurement and analysis intends to offer test-driving services to automakers, and to support the development of technologies for designing engines, suspensions and chassis for self-driving vehicles.

Eventually the company plans to expand this business into five other countries, including the U.K., the U.S. and China.

Horiba is currently the leading manufacturer and seller of instrumentation to measure vehicle emissions, with an 80% share of the global market. But as electric vehicles and other types of eco-cars gain traction, the demand for this kind of equipment is destined to decline. Given that reality, the company is looking to self-driving vehicles as a new source of business.

In the U.K., Horiba will use the test course and crash-test facilities inherited in the 2015 acquisition of British vehicle-testing company Mira to offer test-driving services to automakers for their self-driving vehicles. In Japan, it plans to offer the services using its new Horiba Biwako E-Harbor site for development and production in Shiga Prefecture. In the U.S. and China, it will use the testing equipment at its existing development bases.

Horiba plans to leverage its experience with sensors to support the development of self-driving vehicles, which depend in large part on the performance of their sensors for stable operation. The company will help automakers develop systems that use car-mounted cameras and sensors to recognize pedestrians and signage, and systems that identify speed limit signs and slow the vehicles down accordingly.

Horiba intends to offer its services not only to the leading automakers of Japan and the West, but also to those in emerging economies, with an eye on the Chinese manufacturers that are stepping up their own R&D efforts in self-driving vehicles.

The Japanese company now garners sales of around 7 billion yen ($63.2 million) annually from its services to automakers supporting development and providing testing. By cultivating demand in the new field of self-driving vehicles, it aims to more than double these sales in Japan to 16 billion yen in 2020. It expects business related to self-driving vehicles to account for more than half of those revenues.

(Nikkei)

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