Special Feature 3: Initiatives for the Next Generation

Co-creating a new smart society through materials


In January 2018, Aichi Steel established the new Frontier Research and Development Division to clarify internally and externally our stance to next-generation businesses, and to enhance our R&D capabilities with the aim of creating new businesses.
We are focusing on initiatives in six fields while leveraging our superior materials technologies.

Positioning and R&D fields of the Frontier Research and Development Division

MI sensor example application #1
Joint Development with Mizuno of an Internal Baseball Sensor Module for MAQ System

Aichi Steel and Mizuno Corporation jointly developed a sensor module for Mizuno’s MAQ baseball rotation analysis system.
The MAQ is a system that coordinates data acquired through a sensor module contained in a baseball with a specialized application so as to analyze the rotational frequency and speed etc. of the ball when thrown by a pitcher.
MI sensors are ultra-high response, ultra-sensitive, ultra-compact, and have ultra-low power consumption. Leveraging these four “ultras,” the compact sensor module is able to reproduce the specifications (mass and balance) of the hard baseball so that pitching feels the same as normal.

MI sensor example application #2
Autonomous Driving Support Using a Magnetic Marker System

Magnetic marker system

The magnetic marker system is an autonomous driving support system comprising MI sensors affixed to the base of a vehicle that use the magnetic force of magnetic markers embedded in the road to measure vehicle position with a high degree of precision, and steer the vehicle. The system uses ultra-sensitive MI sensors, which can detect very weak magnetic fields, together with embedded ferrite plastic magnets, which are low cost and kind to the environment.
Compared to existing systems that use GPS and image processing technologies, this system can reliably identify vehicle position even in mountainous regions or tunnels where GPS signals cannot reach, or at nighttime or in poor weather conditions where image acquisition is difficult. The system can increase reliability of autonomous driving systems when used to complement other systems.

Japan’s first level 4 autonomous driving trials begun at Michi-no-Eki Minami Alpsmura Hase

As a participant in the autonomous driving service trials being conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Aichi Steel used the magnetic marker system to conduct Japan’s first level 4 trials.
From last year, we have conducted a series of trials across Japan, from Okinawa to Shiga and Hokkaido, with the aim of implementing practical applications of autonomous driving technologies. This level 4 trial entails full automation of the vehicle’s acceleration, steering and braking functions with no-one in the driver seat.
Implementation of driverless technologies will provide safe, convenient, and affordable mobility options to suit various needs, such as areas with aging and declining populations. Going forward, we will contribute to realizing safe and secure next-generation transportation systems through further trials, while at the same time driving strategic development of new applications for our MI sensors in order to contribute to next-generation mobility and the smart society.