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Daikin Mobility Lab.

Autonomous Driving Transforms the Relationship between People and Cars Anticipating the technological issues and chemical materials of the future Autonomous Driving Transforms the Relationship between People and Cars Anticipating the technological issues and chemical materials of the future

With the advent of autonomous driving, the relationship between people and cars is being transformed. Achieving pleasure to use for these new cars will necessitate a stronger focus on the human factors when it comes to materials selection and product development. Conscious of the changes brought by autonomous driving, Katsuya Miura, General Manager in the Chemicals Division of Daikin Industries, Ltd., sits down with Dr. Motoyuki Akamatsu, chief researcher at the Automotive Human Factors Research Center to discuss what technology and chemical materials will be needed for the motorized society of the future.


Daikin was founded in 1924 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in seven years from now. Within the company, the Chemicals Division represents roughly 150 to 160 billion yen revenue. Beginning with air conditioning refrigerant, the product lineup for fluorine materials has risen close to 1,800 product types including elastomers, resins, and specialty chemicals. In the field of fluorochemicals, Daikin ranks as a foremost and innovative producer. Capitalizing on the unique features of fluorine, we have significantly increased our presence in automotive, information technologies (IT) and semi-conductors.

Using fluorine materials to solve technological issues
in the changing relationship between people and cars

Daikin Industries, LTD. Chemicals Division General Manager Katsuya Miura

Daikin ambitions to contribute to the progress of battery-related materials. In the future, superior performance and lighter weight will be required, impacting the choice of additives and binders. In the shift from metals to plastics, a large variety of alternatives are being used to ensure the adoption of the right material for the right application. It is established that fluorine as an additive plays a role in material processability and lowers friction. Because of its excellent electrical characteristics, fluorine is also used for electrical and telecommunication wires, LAN cables, Printed Circuit Boards as well as electronic devices coatings. In addition to smartphones, a wider number of devices are parts of our everyday life such as car displays. We believe that fluorine-based chemicals will play a positive role of their performance and reliability challenge.

We observe high expectations from automotive producers and end-users to improve UV resistance for the car of the future. Fluorine already exhibits strong resistance to UV radiation, and we are currently exploring technologies and materials also performing anti-fouling properties for applications such as exterior sensors of autonomous vehicles.

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Automotive Human Factors Research Center (AHFRC) Prime Senior Researcher, Dr. Motoyuki Akamatsu

It is absolutely true and not only for external sensors. UV degradation and surface fouling are also topics often discussed for cars’ interiors. Naturally, drivers of luxury cars appreciate beautiful exteriors but they also experience a special driving pleasure when they turn the steering wheel or press down the accelerator. In autonomous vehicles, as machines are driving in place of people, these appreciated sensations do not longer exist. The pleasure of riding a quality car will have to be found in other aspects of the vehicle.

The car value focus then shifts from exterior appearances and engines to the control equipment and systems, which include software and the accompanying updates. Accordingly, the experience of a luxury car becomes evaluated on its inside, making the role of interior materials extremely important. Because materials currently used in car interiors are susceptible to degradation from ultraviolet radiation, UV resistance becomes increasingly more decisive.

In addition to that, car sharing services will increase as autonomous driving becomes a reality and the differentiation of cars based on appearance and engines will significantly decrease. For traditional car rental companies, a vehicle can relatively quickly be assigned to a next user once it is returned and cleaned. With car sharing services, a person might ride a car right after another person without it being cleaned. This new use habits makes interior maintenance of surfaces, including antifouling and antibacterial, a significant factor.


I see. At Daikin, we bridge this gap by developing surface modification materials that are antifouling and antifingerprint. Our R&D is also attentive to market needs, and observed an increasing demand for durability and a waterproofing function. In this way, I think we are uniquely equipped to solve these types of issues.

Our customers also required higher flexibility and softer textures for the consumer goods when using our fluororesins and fluoroelastomers. These preferences have been incorporated in products development for skin contacts. Because of their resistance to body fluids and sebum, these products are particularly suitable for wearable devices such as biosensors.


Wearable sensors can meet the needs of elderly drivers. Currently, consortiums are being formed with manufacturers to tackle projects in this field. An example would be to prevent driving accidents to happen, by detecting sudden changes in the physical condition of senior’s drivers. Infarctus, stroke and sudden loss of consciousness are more likely to occur with age. In accidents involving seniors we typically see a pattern of irregular heartbeat that is 2-3 times faster than normal, as well as poor blood flow. These data are being collected by medical sensors. It would be safer and convenient to carry a comfortable to wear device: anomalies could be detected at an early stage by wearables measuring heartbeat and pulse.

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