Sony to inject $890m to boost image sensor production
Sony joins other tech giants like Apple and Google in the race to develop self-driving car technology Reuters

Sony has become the latest technology firm to join the self-driving car revolution, following an investment in the Japan-based robot car startup ZMP.

Sony leads the field in image sensor technology and it is hoped that by combining this know-how with ZMP's robotics expertise, progress can be made in using the sensors on automated vehicles.

A 2% stake in ZMP was recently acquired by Sony, according to the Financial Times, for a cost of around Y100m (£548,000).

"We think demand for automotive image sensors will expand significantly from 2017 and that growth will continue until 2030," Shigeo Ohba, general manager of Sony's image sensor business, told the paper.

Reports emerged this week that Apple is also planning to invest some of its vast £115bn cash pile into self-driving cars.

Apple's project, referred to internally within the company as Titan, is focussing on all-electric and autonomous vehicles connected to the internet.

"Fully automated driving is an evolution," an insider told Reuters. "Car makers will slowly build the market for autonomous cars by first releasing connected and partially autonomous cars. Apple is interested in all the potential ways you can evolve the car, that includes autonomous driving."

Even popular ride-sharing app Uber has hinted that it would like to offer its customers an automated service, however the rise of self-driving car development has been met with caution from road users.

A 2014 study by AA Cars found that the majority of drivers would be unwilling to ever switch to a fully-automated vehicle.

"There is a big leap of faith needed by drivers, from embracing assistance systems to accepting the fully automated car," David Bruce, director of AA Cars, told IBTimes UK. "Two-thirds of AA members still enjoy driving too much to want a fully automated car."