Driven by declining prices, usage of cameras in motor vehicles is set to soar in the coming years, rising by a factor of more than five from 2012 to 2020, according to a new report from IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc.
Shipments of cameras for cars will rise to 82.7 million units in 2020, up from 16.0 million units in 2012. Shipments will surge to 20.2 million units this year.
Current camera offerings in cars range from the reverse and park camera to blind-spot detection, to night vision, to a system that shows the entire car and its surroundings from a top-down point of view.
While there is a general consensus about the benefits and advantages of cameras in vehicle safety applications, there are still obstacles that must be overcome before cameras can have as widespread a penetration into the automotive market as they have in other applications, such as mobile communications. The main challenge is the cost of the screen and other components that go into these applications, all of which the vehicle original equipment manufacturer (OEM) must pay for. Back-up cameras require a display, and some auto manufacturers are hesitant to put such a costly item in a vehicle if it doesn’t generate revenue in some way—such as from services or telematics.
But displays are not the only heightened cost. For example, in front, or forward-looking, cameras while there is no screen as it involves machine vision, the camera needs to be of much better quality and requires much more complex software and more powerful microcontrollers—all of which are expensive.
These costs can only really go down with volume, but that is dependent upon the consumers interest and willingness to pay for the cameras, as vehicle OEMs will pass down costs to them. While back-up cameras have been seen as an overall benefit to consumers and the technology is mature now, forward-looking cameras are very different. Moreover, an option that is purely to prevent accidents is not nearly attractive enough at this point, because consumers are less willing to pay for safety than comfort, convenience and design features. For many of these applications to reach a point where volume will drive down costs, the way will be through legislation requiring these applications in vehicles.
The market for park/reverse advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) systems is becoming standard on more vehicles—and not surprisingly forms the largest market for cameras in vehicles. Camera-based park/reverse systems display a view from the rear of the vehicle on a screen, sometimes with superimposed driving guidelines, and often give a warning sound when coming close to another object. This ADAS application is seeing a high rate of growth in the next years not only as a result of vehicle manufacturers looking to increase safety but also of mandates that are being established.
As a result, unit shipments of park/reverse cameras will reach 42.4 million units by 2020, up from just 11.4 million units in 2012, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6 percent. Given the popularity of reverse/park assist cameras, fitment rates for this ADAS type is set to grow to 66.4 percent, up from 40.3 percent in 2010.
There has also been a substantial interest in night-vision systems for vehicles to enhance visibility without hindering the view of other drivers Night driving significantly increases the risk of accidents, with about 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occurring at night. While using high-beam headlamps helps visibility, this can only be done without oncoming traffic.
Considered more of a future technology is the surround-view system that offers a bird’s-eye-view of the vehicle and its immediate environment to help with parking, reverse the car or in general operations. This is achieved by using cameras located around the vehicle to capture images from all sides.
As part of the desire of automotive manufacturers to improve safety, several companies have been working on systems to alert the driver when another vehicle is in the car’s blind spot. Most of the blind-spot detection systems include a camera, or a radar or ultrasonic sensor that can sense vehicles approaching from either side of the car with a range of about 50 meters, and then warn the driver.
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