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Autonomous Driving - Transforming the Relationship between People and Cars Anticipating the technological issues and chemical materials of the future Autonomous Driving - Transforming 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 changing. Transforming the driving experience will require a stronger focus on 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.

Miura

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

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

Miura
Daikin Industries, LTD. Chemicals Division General Manager Katsuya Miura

One of Daikin’s goals is to provide innovative materials for batteries. In the future, superior performance and lighter weight will be required, impacting the choice of additives and binders. In shifting from metals to plastics, a large variety of alternatives are being used to ensure the adoption of the right material for the right application. Fluorine as an additive improves material processability and lowers friction. Also, fluorine’s excellent electrical characteristics allow it to be used for electrical and telecommunication wires, LAN cables, Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), as well as electronic device coatings. In addition to smartphones, a wider number of devices, such as car displays, are now a large a part of our everyday lives . We believe that fluorine-based chemicals will have a positive impact on their performance and reliability.

We know auto producers and end-users expect improvement in the UV resistance. Fluorine already exhibits a strong resistance to UV radiation, and we are currently exploring technologies and materials containing anti-fouling properties for applications such as sensors for autonomous vehicles.

Akamatsu
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 the beautiful exteriors but they also expect a certain driving experience when they turn the steering wheel or press down the accelerator. In autonomous vehicles where the machines are driving instead of people, these experiences will no longer exist. The appreciation of a car will have to come from other aspects of the vehicle.

The value then shifts from exterior appearances and engines to the interiors. Accordingly, the luxury car experience becomes differentiated by the 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 important.

In addition, car sharing services will increase as autonomous driving becomes a reality. For traditional car rental companies, a vehicle can quickly be assigned to the next user once it is returned and cleaned. However, with car sharing services, a person might ride in a car right after another person without it being cleaned. This new use habit makes interior surface maintenance more significant, including antifouling and antibacterial.

Miura

I see. At Daikin, we are meeting this need by developing surface modi¬fication materials that are antifouling and fingerprint resistant. Our R&D is focused on market trends and customer needs, and we have observed an increasing demand for durability and waterproofing. I think Daikin is uniquely equipped to solve these types of issues.

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

Akamatsu

Wearable sensors are being developed to assist elderly drivers. Currently, consortiums are being formed with manufacturers to tackle projects in this field. An example would be to prevent driving accidents by detecting sudden changes in the physical condition of senior 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. This data is collected by medical sensors. It would be safer and more convenient to utilize a comfortable, wearable device: anomalies could be detected at an early stage by wearables measuring heartbeat and pulse.

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