Chinese Driver Assist Systems to Grow

8. November 2013

Last year, some 15.8-million cars were sold in China. Consultancy PwC projects that by 2019, there could be annual sales of 27.7-million.

So it is, perhaps, not entirely surprising that earlier this week the Beijing Municipal Government announced that it was going to be reducing the number of license plates being made available to 150,000 per month rather than 250,000 per month. Apparently, the traffic conditions of an ever-growing population of motor vehicles is getting difficult to manage.

And IHS Automotive released this week a report that estimates that the market for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) will triple by 2019, going from $1.0-billion this year to $3.1-billion six years hence.

imageSource: IHS

ADAS is a suite of technologies including blind-spot detection (BSD), parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and night vision.

The IHS researchers calculate that BSD—which deploys a sensor array (radar, ultrasonic, or camera) will have a major impact in the Chinese market. According to Michael Liu, senior ADAS analyst with IHS Automotive, “Motorists are realizing that BSD is useful in China because most cities are overwhelmed with the amount of vehicles on the roads. Furthermore, lots of Chinese drivers are used to changing lanes frequently. Thus, it is quite dangerous for inexperienced drivers because they may not be aware of other cars in the blind spot before they change lanes, which may cause collisions. BSD can greatly reduce this risk by warning the driver when there are vehicles in the blind spot of the side-view mirrors.”

If you’re not familiar with BSD, know that it generally consists of a light in either the side view mirrors or A-pillars, which illuminates when a vehicle is in the blind spot. Sometimes it is accompanied by a warning noise. It is not intrusive. It is helpful.

One wonders about how beneficial it is going to be in a place where there are huge traffic jams and drivers constantly trying to get a better position in a place where “better” is minor, at best.

Among the techs that IHS thinks won’t catch on: driver monitoring (which makes sure you’re not nodding off), high-beam control (you drive with your brights on all the time; when a car ahead is detected, the low beams are activated), and night vision (based on either an infrared light source or thermal imaging).

But in addition to BSD, another big gainer in the Chinese market, IHS says, will be self-parking systems, given the ever-tightening parking spaces in municipalities. If you’re in a city where they’re adding an additional 150,000 cars per month, chances are good you’re in a city where they’re not adding an additional 150,000, too, so no matter how good the self-parking system is. . . .