How Transparent Heaters Can Power The ADAS Sensor Market

September 26, 2022

As advanced driver assistance systems see skyrocketing growth, expect next-generation heating technology to be in high demand.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are transforming customer expectations, preventing traffic accidents, and saving lives. But the rapid rise of ADAS comes with an important caveat — the sensors that make it all possible must remain unobstructed regardless of the weather.

The good news? This is exactly what transparent heaters are designed to do. Unlike past microwire solutions to remove condensation, snow, and ice, transparent heaters were developed to meet the needs of next-generation sensor technology. In short, these clear, flexible heater foils have the potential to power the explosive growth of ADAS.

The ADAS market is growing fast

The numbers help tell that story. Only 10% of the roughly 1.05 billion cars in use worldwide include ADAS features. In contrast, ADAS features appear in over 90% of newly produced vehicles.

Although market research firms give different figures for the exact value of the current ADAS market, they all project skyrocketing growth. Mordor Intelligence, for instance, pins the global value at $92.09 billion by 2027, up from $36.8 billion last year, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 16.70%. Not surprisingly, the ADAS sensor market that the systems rely on, is keeping pace, advancing with a CAGR of 11.7% during the 2020-2030 forecast period. Valued at $11.5 billion in 2019, it is expected to reach $40.8 billion by 2030.

Canalys, a technology research firm, concludes: “Assuming the total number of cars in use remains at around the one billion mark this decade, this is an incredible long-term opportunity for carmakers and particularly their ADAS technology suppliers and partners.

So, what’s fueling the rise?

A few simultaneous trends are contributing to the steep upward climb:

  1. Consumer expectations. Drivers are becoming increasingly used to the convenience of ADAS features like blind spot and pedestrian detection, drowsy-driver alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning/correction, and adaptive headlights. A consistent increase in demand for compact and mid-sized automobiles with advanced safety features is expected to propel growth.
  2. Government intervention. Mandates and financial incentives are favoring the inclusion of advanced safety features.
  3. Increased safety awareness. The integration of ADAS features bring safety-critical functionalities that reduce accidents and save lives. ADAS technologies have the potential to prevent 20,841 deaths per year, or about 62% of total traffic deaths, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. (Lane keeping assist accounts for 14,844 of these savings, while pedestrian automatic braking accounts for another 4,106 lives saved.)
  4. Rise of autonomous vehicles. The self-driving cars market size is projected to grow from 20.3 million units in 2021 to 62.4 million units by 2030, at a CAGR of 13.3%, Markets and Markets reports. Sensors are the foundation of self-driving cars.
  5. Economies of scale: Rapid market adoption will further bring down the price of sensors required for ADAS. By 2030, Canalys predicts 30% of cars in use globally will have ADAS features; in 2050, 50%.

Some ADAS features, however, proliferate faster than others. In the United States, two ADAS applications in particular will soon be present in half or more registered vehicles. Around 60% of registered vehicles are projected to have rear parking sensors by 2026 while adaptive headlights (13%) and autonomous braking (43%) will take longer to mature.

What happens when sensors are obstructed?

Each system relies on sensors to “see” the surroundings. Some ADAS systems use multiple sensors while others require only one. With the help of sensor technology like optical cameras, LiDAR, and RADAR, large amounts of data are processed to trigger automatic responses like braking for pedestrians or turning lights on at dusk.

But even high-tech safety features can be vulnerable to the weather. Build-up of snow, ice, and condensation can all interfere with the performance of sensors used in advanced driver assistance systems. This is not only a nuisance but a safety hazard.

Microwire downsides

In the past, thin microwires provided one of few options to remove ice and condensation off windshields and headlights. Meshed across the transparent surface, they carry enough electrical current to clear fog, snow, and ice off glass. But when it comes to ADAS sensors, microwires come with an irreconcilable flaw — their presence interferes with the sensors’ ability to detect precise objects and distances. Many drivers also find the small wires obstruct their view of the road.

Transparent heaters ensure optimal performance

A better solution to preserve functionality? Cue transparent heaters. At the heart of this innovation is a nanotube hybrid called AgentNT™, an advanced material that allows the creation of optically clear heaters on a variety of flexible film substrates. The materials solve a key challenge, combining both transparency and conductivity.

The AgeNT™ transparent nanotube hybrid material is, in fact, the only commercially available transparent material capable of delivering the heat density required for applications such as collision avoidance without wires.

Final word

An industry that brings driver convenience and life-saving features cannot take any chances. Transparent heaters make sure ADAS can deliver on both promises.

Do you have questions for us about AgeNT™ or wonder how our pioneering use of CNTs could benefit your products? Contact us today. We are here to help.



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