Toyoda Gosei, a Japan-based automotive parts manufacturer has invested in IMUZAK, a startup located in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, with strengths in optical design and assessment to accelerate its development of interior and exterior modules for the age of autonomous driving.
The evolution of autonomous driving technology is expected to increase the need for parts equipped with sensing functions to recognise the surrounding environment, such as nearby vehicles or pedestrians and road configuration, and human-machine interface functions for communication between vehicles and people. Given this trend, Toyoda Gosei is integrating sensors and other electronic components into its exterior and interior products such as front grilles, cockpits, and steering wheels, where it has been a leading supplier for many years. The company claims that the new modular products is being developed with the new technology and will combine functions for safety and comfort with attractive design.
Toyoda Gosei’s investment in IMUZAK will give it access to that company’s proprietary findings in the field of optics for the creation of new value as it develops exterior products that are transparent to infrared light using LIDAR and interior products that use light in equipment operation. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a sensing method that measures distance and direction by the time it takes emitted infrared laser light to reflect off of an object and return. Compared with millimeter wave radar, a sensor using a similar mechanism, LIDAR uses electromagnetic waves with a shorter wavelength and is characterised by high spatial resolution, or ability to detect objects in detail.
This investment is the first to be made by Toyoda Gosei’s newly established Corporate Venture Capital Department, started in January 2019 as a dedicated organisation for corporate venture capital. The amount of the investment is 50 million yen (Rs 3 crore), which will give Toyoda Gosei an equity stake of 19.1 percent in IMUZAK.