Tech companies are flocking to the self-driving car market with some making significant investments into other firms that are helping to develop technology. Intel for instance is working on tech that will benefit self-driving cars. The big rumor the last week or so has been that Apple is set to enter into the self-driving car market. On the heels of that rumor comes confirmation that Sony is stepping into the market.
Sony has invested about 100 million yen to buy a small stake in a self-driving car firm from Japan called ZMP. Sony’s 100 million yen investment is equivalent to about $842,000 here in the US. For the money, Sony is getting a small 2% stake in ZMP.
The goal of Sony and ZMP is to combine ZMP’s robotics skills with Sony’s image sensor expertise according to people familiar with the deal. Sony has a good share of the camera sensor market and it wants to leverage that in the emerging self-driving car market.
The self-driving car market could be a very lucrative one for Sony thanks to its image sensor success. Some predict that self-driving cars may use as many as ten image sensors each when the tech finally makes it to prime time. Sony’s general manager of image sensors Shigeo Ohba says that he expects demand for image sensors in cars to grow significantly between 2017 and 2030. He says Sony has to be number one in that market.