Toyoda Gosei has developed Japan's first steering wheel with a grip sensor, which is compatible with todays advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and used in the new Lexus LS.

The company has also installed a new anechoic chamber at its Miwa Technical Centre to develop high value-added modules that can be used with future autonomous driving technologies. 

The supplier  jointly developed this new steering wheel with Toyota Motor Corporation. These steering wheels can detect whether the driver is gripping the steering wheel.

Vehicles equipped with ADAS have automatic brakes, devices to keep vehicles in their driving lane and other advanced functions but the steering wheel must still be gripped by the driver for emergency operation. The newly developed steering wheel has sensors embedded in the wheel that can detect the driver's grip with a high level of precision.

These steering wheels also have heaters to warm the steering wheel during winter. Normally this would require both a heating element and a sensing element. With design modifications, Toyoda Gosei succeeded for the first time in combining the two elements. This provides the sensor function with no loss to heating performance and contributes to lighter weight.

As autonomous driving systems will increasingly assist drivers in vehicle operation, Toyoda Gosei aims to integrate various functions in the steering wheel.

The anechoic chamber is to strengthen product development that combines electronic components with its core technologies centred on the field of rubber and plastics. Anechoic chambers block electromagnetic waves from the outside and suppress reflection of electromagnetic waves on the inside, so that the frequency range and strength of electromagnetic waves emitted from a product can be accurately measured.

The company has long provided a large number of parts for the cockpit area and area around the front grille. With advances in autonomous driving, these areas are expected to confer various functions that create more comfortable interior spaces, and to be equipped with greater numbers of sensors that detect surrounding conditions.

With the increasing number of electronic components used in autonomous driving, it will become more and more important to prevent interference between these electromagnetic waves. The new anechoic chamber can simultaneously measure electromagnetic waves with a wide range of properties emitted from various directions from multiple products, improving the reliability of products equipped with many electronic components.

Using this anechoic chamber, Toyoda Gosei will develop module products that incorporate electronic components.