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Jan. 18, 2018
Sumitomo Corporation
AZAPA Co., Ltd

Building a New Technology Development Platform for the Automotive Sector

Joint Development Agreement Concluded with AZAPA as First Step

Sumitomo Corporation (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director, President and Chief Executive Officer: Kuniharu Nakamura), will begin full-scale efforts to construct a platform serving as a bridge between technology and the needs of customers and markets in order to develop new technology for practical application in the automotive sector. As a first step, Sumitomo Corporation has concluded an agreement (hereinafter, “the Agreement”) on the joint development of automobile electronic control units using artificial intelligence algorithms (hereinafter, “AI-based ECUs”) with AZAPA Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture; President & CEO: Yasuhiro Kondo; hereinafter, “AZAPA”), which specializes in automotive-related engineering.
The automotive industry has been undergoing rapid structural change in recent years and, in contrast to hardware-centered business sectors that have seen their growth level off, software for electronic engine control is expected to see strong growth. Software currently accounts for about 20% of the component costs for each automobile, but this is forecast to rise to around 60% in future.
Sumitomo Corporation and AZAPA will pursue joint development of AI-based ECUs for automobiles. ECUs are control units providing integrated control of all systems – engines, motors, car navigation systems, air conditioners, etc. Growing interest in more energy-saving driving and in supporting elderly drivers has led to demand for more sophisticated control, and both the number of ECUs installed per vehicle and their capability values are rising. There were reportedly fewer than five ECUs installed per vehicle on average in the 1980s, but this average is now about 20 and will likely climb to 30 or more by around 2025 (the number installed on luxury vehicles is even likely to double). AI-based ECUs study the exterior environment and vehicle performance during automobile operation and then automatically construct control rules. Integrating individual ECUs into AI-based ECUs will also help reduce vehicle weight and power usage as well as improve fuel efficiency. Consideration will be given to applying this to automated driving technology in future by utilizing driving data to make driving projections.
AZAPA is an engineering company whose strengths lie in model-based development (hereinafter, “MBD”; Note 1) of vehicles and in control and measurement, and it is a leader in MBD within Japan’s automotive industry. In pursuit of a “Tier 0.5 Strategy,” the company will be jointly creating solutions with Tier 1 suppliers (Note 2) from a position close to automotive manufacturers to achieve continual innovation. It hopes to contribute to peace and prosperity through its high-tech capabilities and abundant creativity.
In the automotive sector, Sumitomo Corporation aspires not only to be involved in vehicle manufacture but also to enter upstream portions of the automobile value chain such as planning, design, and development that provide greater added value and earnings potential. From the perspective of developing new technology for the automotive sector, Sumitomo Corporation is engaged in developing, planning and commercializing elemental technology that meets the needs of customers and markets. With the conclusion of the Agreement, it will be utilizing the networks it has built worldwide to construct a new platform that will serve as a bridge between companies seeking to put new technology to practical use and customers/markets. The automated development of control rules and the reduction of fuel costs will also help boost sophistication and reduce energy use across the automotive industry as a whole.
Note 1: MBD: A model describes statistical data from experiments and physical phenomena using simulatable formulas and algorithms, and product development with virtual prototypes that utilize such a model is termed model-based development. This approach enables very precise verification without the need to produce actual prototypes, reducing losses from prototype reworking and enhancing the efficiency of product development.
Note 2: Tier 1 supplier: a primary supplier that supplies products directly to the original equipment manufacturer


■Company profile of AZAPA
Name : AZAPA Co., Ltd.
Head office : Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
Description of business : Research on new systems and development of solutions for the automotive industry and other sectors (*)
*Automotive, energy, information technology, communications & technology, R&D
Year established : 2008

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■Sumitomo Corporation’s  Material Issues
Sumitomo Corporation Group positions “Six Material Issues to Achieve Sustainable Growth with Society” as an important factor in developing business strategies and in the decision-making process for individual businesses. Going forward, we will pursue sustainable growth by resolving these issues through our business activities. This Project especially contributes to “Contributing to the Development of Local Communities and Industries” and “Establishing a Foundation for Comfortable and Enriching Lifestyles”.


Corporate Communications Department,
Sumitomo Corporation

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