Users Report Vol. 116

Business Planning Department, Autonomous Driving Systems Business Development Division /
Advanced Development Section, Engineering Development Department, Product Management Division

Supporting Advanced Driver Assistance and Autonomous Driving Technologies Being Developed at an Increasingly Fast Rate, Exploring New Cockpit HMI Experiencing the Bodily Sensation of Originally-Proposed In-Vehicle Context Awareness Using UC-win/Road-based Simulators

 User Information
Location: Kawagoe-shi, Saitama
Services: planning key technologies of autonomous driving and cockpit HMI / PoC of advanced technology of the Company

"It is our great mission to perform PoC (Proof of Concept), showing what our partner companies or automobile manufacturers are thinking of in the form of prediction utilizing our own technologies researched and developed in our company".

Mr. Kiyoshi Enomoto, Manager of Advanced Development Section, Engineering Development Department, Product Management Division, PIONEER CORPORATION KAWAGOE Plant explains the role of his section, which was established apart from sections for designing actual products or those for research and development in the same division, and focuses on advanced development from the viewpoint of "What to do next".


On the other hand, Autonomous Driving Systems Business Development Division takes charge of planning and developing elements for realizing key technologies needed for autonomous driving. Mr. Manabu Shimodaira, Chief of staff of Planning Section, Business Planning Department of the Division is mainly in charge of planning on the direction of HMI (human-machine interfaces) in the cockpit for autonomous driving. In this project, "In-Vehicle Context Awareness (IVCA) ", a newly planned HMI by the planning team formed with the Department as its core, is developed and implemented as a concrete product, and its effectiveness being verified. In this verification process, Mr. Tomoya Ooishi, who belongs to Advanced Development 1st Section, is leading construction work of simulators.

This issue picks up PIONEER CORPORATION, which focuses on developing new technologies and products and on creating new projects with the car electronics field as the central pillar in recent years, while publishing diverse "world's first" technologies since its foundation. In specific, we focus on "Business Planning Department, Autonomous Driving Systems Business Development Division" and "Advanced Development Section, Engineering Development Department, Product Management Division". Both are based in Kawagoe Plant and working in cooperation on development of a system for simulating the concept towards realizing new HMI related to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous driving.

The Company adopted a driving simulator (DS) based on "UC-win/Road", FORUM8's three-dimensional (3D) real-time VR in spring in 2015 in order to construct the simulator mentioned above. The cockpit demonstration machine completed using it has been operated in some domestic and international events including Tokyo Motor Show held in autumn of the same year.

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Left: Mr. Tomoya Ooishi, Chief of staff of Advanced Development 1st Section, Engineering Development Department, Product Management Division
  Center: Mr. Kiyoshi Enomoto, Manager of Advanced Development Section, Engineering Development Department, Product Management Division
  Right: Mr. Manabu Shimodaira, Chief of staff of Planning Section, Business Planning Department, Autonomous Driving Systems Business Development Division

 Car Electronics Business as its Pillar, Received High Evaluation for the World's First Diverse Commercialization

The precursor of Pioneer Corporation was founded in 1938 following development of dynamic speakers. It was established as Fukuin Denki Corporation in 1947, and then renamed as it is now in 1961.

Since then, Pioneer has been expanding business in and out of Japan in the form of realizing corporate philosophy "Move the Heart and Touch the Soul", providing numbers of world's first technologies in a wide range of electronics fields for in-vehicle, home, and business uses.

Currently besides its headquarters in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo and Kawagoe Plant, it holds group companies in Japan (20) and overseas (48). Number of employees is about 17,000 on a consolidated basis, performing services at respective locations (as of March 31, 2016).

Starting with the component car stereo system (1975), Pioneer has been releasing the GPS car navigation system (1990), OLED-equipped car audio product (1997), "Cyber-Navi" with the Head-Up Display (2012) and so on, all of which were offered for sale for the first time in the world. Especially in the car electronics field Pioneer is always proposing technologies that lead the market, receiving high evaluation.

Car electronics business, which occupies 80% of the Company's sales (on a consolidated basis), is roughly divided into three domains: 1) Marketing business, 2) OEM business, and 3) Map business and autonomous driving-related business. The lineup of car navigation systems provided for marketing business includes "Smart Loop" that shares information by connecting vehicles by communication, "Cyber Navi" that supports advanced functions including the function of supporting safe and secure driving utilizing image analysis technology and probe data, and "Raku-Navi" that makes ease of use and high performance compatible. Regarding products linked with Smartphone, models supporting Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto have been commercialized. Pioneer also puts emphasis on the businesses including map information services, FA equipment and optical disks as well as new business.

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  Towards Development of Cockpit HMI for Advanced Driver Assistance / Autonomous Driving

While technology development for Advanced Driver Assistance and autonomous driving is rapidly promoted, it is expected that trial autonomous driving will start on expressways and motorways in around 2020, and on general roads in about 2025. Targeting the latter, Pioneer is working on utilization of the driving space sensor "3D-LiDAR", creation of maps with high-accuracy, and development of new HMI.

They are based on the technologies related to optical or navigation system accumulated within the Company. In specific, the Company aims at developing an integrated cockpit system and autonomous driving sensing system on the basis of AR-HUD that displays the display objects superimposed on the landscape ahead, intelligent cockpit HMI to be mentioned in detail later, driver sensing, 3D-LiDAR, highly-accurate maps, and a "data ecosystem" which enables efficient update and maintenance of map data for automated driving utilizing autonomous driving LiDAR technology, says Mr. Shimodaira.

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As part of this, Pioneer constructed a concept of IVCA to present the optimum information at the optimum place with the optimum timing for drivers using the prediction technology. Piling up technologies like AR-HUD and HUD eye-box automatic tune-up, "3D-AUI (auditory user interface)", touchpad user interface "Active Feely", driver display, biological sensor, in-vehicle camera, traveling lane recognition, action prediction engine and mounting them in a cockpit, the Company started developing a simulator to enable the user to experience them while driving actually.

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  Construction of IVCA and Development of Cockpit Demonstration Machine Based on UC-win/Road

"IVCA is an enormous theme we are working on," says Mr. Enomoto.

In about 2013 when technological trends for autonomous driving started to be clear, the planning section of Mr. Shimodaira and others explored solutions of high degrees in consideration of technological seeds and marketing needs. In thinking of how to make them usable in safety including Advanced Driver Assistance technologies, they came upon the concept of IVCA. Based on this, in the spring of 2014, an advanced development project for realizing IVCA started with Mr. Enomoto as a key person. Next year he joined Advanced Development Section as Manager. Accordingly, that project became the mission of the Section.

In providing necessary information without hindering driving operation, at first (in the end of 2014) they produced a cockpit in which the video image shot from a traveling car was projected ahead and the driver operated while watching the image. However, though its reproducibility was high, operation was not reflected on the screen; thus it was unable to get interactivity. Then they paid attention to UC-win/Road, which they had been interested in since long before. In spring 2015, they started to develop a simulator (cockpit demonstration machine) using it.

At that time, in order to provide information expected to become necessary for the driver or passengers with the optimum timing, it was necessary to reproduce driving scenes including the background. In addition, in order to confirm that highly useful information can be provided in such a way that does not hinder driving operation, high reproducibility for devising and exploring various methods of presentation and operation was also needed.

The advanced cockpit demonstration machine that makes it possible to verify the value while having an experience under the theme of IVCA, Pioneer Advanced UX Cockpit was completed in October 2015. To suit to the actual situation of in and out of Japan, 2 units with left-hand drive (with map data of the Las Vegas version) and right-hand-drive (with map data of Japanese version) respectively were produced. Later they were first shown at "Tokyo Motor Show" (from the end of October to the beginning of October). Since then, they were exhibited and operated in succession at "CES 2016" (January 2016, Las Vegas at USA) and "CES ASIA 2016" (May 2016 at Shanghai).

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In-Vehicle Context Awareness (IVCA) exhibition system

  Evaluation and Expectation of Simulators and Their Development in the Future

The first attempt to have the simulator used by users in the form of PoC to experience future driving scenes with diverse technologies put together demonstrated high efficacy in making individual technologies of the Company appealing to the customers and in the scenes of advanced examination within the Company. In particular, it was fortunate that the simulators kept on working actively without any trouble throughout their operation in domestic and overseas events etc. for a whole year, says Mr. Enomoto.

Partly with such high evaluation, DS of FORUM8 is also introduced for another project on Advanced Driver Assistance, which had been proceeded in parallel in 2015.

On the other hand, when simulating traveling scenes of autonomous driving, it is almost equal to only sitting and watching the simulation if there is no representation of G (gravitational acceleration) applied to humans. However, responding to this will make the system massive and expensive; therefore, he says it is the future challenge to clear the problem in an easier way.

Furthermore, from the viewpoint of actually getting involved in development of simulators, Mr. Ooishi not only evaluates high reproducibility of our DS but also expects customizing capacity capable of turning off the function of generating excessive reality depending on the purpose of demonstration such as a creep phenomenon, or provision of sample collection that can be referred to in preparing scenarios.

Pioneer is also examining utilization of the simulators in the verification process in the aim of improving the accuracy of biological sensing. In that process, realistic representation is required that appeal to the five senses including various types of vibration in order to capture biological response sensitive to the environmental changes as accurately as possible. Mr. Shimodaira expects the future as to how the simulation environment with sense of immersion can be prepared.

(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
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