Japanese household products and electronics giant Toshiba is reportedly planning to leverage its image recognition chips to enter the market for autonomous vehicles.

The Nikkei news agency reports that it is testing an obstacle avoidance system that it hopes to commercialise by 2020 and is looking at Tier 1 suppliers as possible customers.

The report says that Toshiba is hoping to provide a low-cost 'turnkey' solution and hopes to establish a new revenue stream with little added investment by taking advantage of its existing semiconductor and microcontroller technologies.

The Nikkei report says the new system has been developed with Nagoya University and combines a 'monocular camera and a laser sensor with the Visconti 4, the latest generation of Toshiba's Visconti image recognition processors for the automotive market'.

It is claimed that the Visconti 4 processor can work in the dark to recognise objects and ascertain distance and height.

In the Toshiba obstacle avoidance system, the Visconti chip processes the image data captured by the camera to three-dimensionally measure the orientation and distance of stationary objects. It can combine information from the laser sensor for added precision, then creates a map depicting where the object is and how to get around it.

The report says Toshiba is now testing this system on public roads in Aichi Prefecture with 3-D mapping software company Aisan Technology and Tier IV, a startup involved in technology for self-driving cars.