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Mitsubishi missile attack on self-driving cars

Automotive manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric plans to reverse-engineer missile targeting systems developed for the Japanese military for future self-driving systems.

That’s according to an interview by Katsumi Adachi, senior chief engineer at Mitsubishi’s automotive equipment division, who said the car manufacturer wants to build systems to detect obstacles and avoid collisions by using components from its missile targeting system.

See Also: How Robot Drivers Will Save Us From Ourselves

Adachi claims that Mitsubishi will be able to provide superior systems to those currently on the market, due to its expertise in precision targeting and electric-power steering systems.

“All we have to do is to put together the components that we already have,” Adachi said to Bloomberg Technology. “None of our competitors have such a wide array of capabilities.”

There is a variety of challenges in reverse engineering the missile targeting system for a self-driving car, one of those challenges being the cost of systems. “Cost-cutting requests are much more severe in autos than aerospace,” Adachi said. “I wonder if it’s possible for them to bring down the cost of the systems to the levels manufacturers can use for cheap, low-end cars.”

Mitsubishi is firmly behind in the self-driving race

Mitsubishi is behind other providers of assistance technologies in cars, but plans to begin production of cruise control and automatic braking systems in its cars by 2017, and automatic parking systems in the following year. Those systems are already being tested by BMW, Audi, and Ford, putting Mitsubishi firmly behind in the race.

Adachi said that the components were also being used for the development of a complete self-driving system that will arrive in 2020. That’s two years later than the current estimates for Apple and Google’s self-driving car launch.

It is surprising that Mitsubishi has fallen behind in the race, considering it started development of these systems two years ago and demoed a self-driving prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. Perhaps the growth in the market for self-driving features has pushed the Japanese car manufacturer to build these systems, before one of its competitors captures the market.

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