UNTERGRUPPENBACH, GERMANY (Reuters) - Robert Bosch sees the rapid growth of automated driving assistance systems garnering it 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in annual sales by 2016, a senior executive told reporters on Friday.
The German auto parts supplier, which notched up group sales of 48.9 billion euros in 2014, has already said the shift toward more fuel-efficient, safer cars has helped it sell more of its driver assistance systems such as radar and video sensors, but has not put a figure on the expected sales.
Last year Bosch sold more than 50 million surround sensors for driver assistance systems and has 2,000 engineers working on refining these technologies, up 700 on two years ago.
If legal and insurance questions can be clarified, cars could be driving themselves on motorways by 2020, Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management at Bosch, said, joining a widespread industry view that the technology could start being widely applied in five years’ time.
Across the industry, the increasing availability and falling costs of software, processors and cameras is allowing automakers to develop new safety functions which teach cars semi-autonomous functions such as automated braking to avoid accidents.
The emergence of self-driving and connected cars has also made software a key component in future cars, opening the market to the likes of Google Inc and shaking up the relationship between traditional carmakers and parts suppliers.
Google said earlier this month it had begun testing self-driving cars in Austin, Texas, expanding efforts to gather information on how the prototypes interact with traffic, road conditions and people.
Hoheisel said on Friday Bosch had helped Google in its development of self-driving cars, supplying the powertrain and sensors for the vehicle.
The Stuttgart-based company, whose customers also include BMW and Tesla, said the number of radar and video sensors sold doubled in 2014 and will do so again in 2015. By 2016 Bosch expects to make its 10 millionth radar sensor, the company said.
Bosch’s radar, video and ultrasonic sensors help cars monitor their surroundings and provide signals to help perform functions like following the car ahead in slow-moving traffic, or automatically braking if the car in front slows down.
Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas estimate global sales of semi-automated vehicles to reach 8.7 million by 2020, rising to 22.7 million by 2025.
Editing by David Holmes