Valeo has announced that it plans to enter into a joint venture with Raytheon Company to develop and produce radar-based automotive applications in the field of obstacle detection systems.

The planned 50/50 joint venture will combine Raytheon’s and Valeo’s joint capabilities in short-wave radar sensing with Valeo’s expertise in traffic environment systems.

Potential applications range from short-range obstacle detection systems to more sophisticated 360 degree coverage traffic monitoring solutions for which a rapidly growing market is forecast. Radar systems including advanced electronics are expected to contribute to driver confidence and comfort.

Raytheon’s multi-beam radar system and Valeo’s short-range pulse radar are expected to be at the heart of future development.

The joint venture will have access to Raytheon’s manufacturing know-how for “MMIC” (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit) technology, which Valeo claims is one of the most cost-effective ways to produce radar sensors in high volumes.

The first customer applications are expected in 2004.

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Commenting on the joint venture, Thierry Morin, Chairman of Valeo’s Management Board, said, “Our strategy of targeted alliances with best-in-class partners for technological expertise will help Valeo focus on the development of value-added systems, lower costs and reduce development cycles. Combining Raytheon’s and Valeo’s radar technology and commercial expertise will not only enable us to grow our electronics systems business further, but will also strengthen our position in our Seeing and Being Seen Domain.”

The agreement, subject to closing conditions, is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2002.

The first application of the joint venture will be a blind spot detection system which can detect obstacles and warn the driver during lane change maneuvers.

Future applications could include pre-crash sensing which, when electronically linked to other vehicle systems, can be used to mitigate the effects of an inevitable collision.