Following similar moves by Google and Apple, Sony is reportedly entering into the self driving car race with the help of Japanese robotic car maker ZMP.
The Financial Times cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that Sony recently invested $842,000 to buy a 2% stake in ZMP in hopes of developing self-driving car technologies by combining Sony’s expertise in image sensors and ZMP’s robotics technology.
Google has already tested its self driving car and Apple has reportedly set up a secret lab and working on developing its own version of the next generation vehicle, which indicates Silicon Valley’s increased interest in the autonomous vehicles.
Sony is known for its camera and image sensors which could be of great use in self-driving vehicles, as autonomous vehicles have as much as 10 cameras mounted on them to keep an eye on the surroundings of the vehicle.
Sony is being hit by tough competition in the television and smartphone business, but it is the leader when it comes to image sensors boasting the top market share.
The FT reported Sony image sensor business general manager Shigeo Ohba as saying: "We think demand for automotive image sensors will expand significantly from 2017 and that growth will continue until 2030."
However, according to reports smartphones have a bigger market than vehicles, as vehicle sales only exceed 100 million units but smartphone sales exceed one billion units per year.