Strong growth ahead for automotive image sensors

February 17, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With sophisticated driver assistance systems increasingly offering functions that make cars to "see" their environments, the market for image sensors in automotive environments is shifting higher. Market research company Smithers Apex provides detailed figures.

Functions associated to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like parking assistance (APA), lane departure warning (LDW) and collision avoidance greatly depend on image sensors. The increasing popularity of such systems creates heavy demand for cameras, all the more so since some systems such as 360° surround view require multiple cameras. Smithers Apex has reckoned that the market volume for such image sensors therefore will grow at a pace of more than 50% per year through 2018. In terms of market value, the market researcher expects it to reach $165 billion within the next five years - up from just $18.5 bn.

The rising volume for ADAS cameras is also owed to the fact that there is a major shift in the market: While a few years ago, camera-based ADAS were a feature of the luxury vehicle class and thus sold in small numbers, today such systems are available for more or less all vehicles categories down to the compact class. A couple of years ago, a Lexus LS400 owner had to pay about $3000 for the optional ADAS - buyers of a mainstream Ford vehicles today get it for less than $400. An additional boost in image sensor demand can be expected from the next ADAS generation which look into the vehicle interior, constantly monitoring the driver's state. In the years ahead, driver situation and prediction analysis, based on camera information, will be used to filter the various warning messages from ADAS systems.

According to Smithers Apex' analysis, there are both consumer and regulatory drivers for increased use of ADAS systems and thus image sensors: While consumers tend to enjoy new gadgets that help them reducing their risk of an accident, regulators are interested in improving road safety. The Euro NCAP safety certification program requires that only cars with ADAS systems would be awarded their top rating of 5 stars. Similar development is under way in the United States. Both