Horizon says development efficiency is the key to expanding from self-driving chips to software

Annie Huang, Taipei; Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia 0

IC firms capitalize on L2+ vehicle autonomy becoming standard for new higher-end cars. Credit: AFP

Horizon Robotics is one of the few automotive-grade AI chip companies in China. Founder and CEO Kai Yu recently said software maturity can decide a business's life or death. As intelligent driving becomes prevalent, automotive IC companies have to take the efficiency of software development more seriously.

Founded in 2015, Horizon has tried to grow its market share in level 2+ vehicle autonomy. Yu said Horizon accounted for 49.05% of the L2+ market in 2022, while Nvidia took up 45.89%. The former aims to further its dominance in 2023 and targets the low-level smart driving market in the future.

Navigate on Autopilot (NoA) is the flagship feature of L2+ vehicle autonomy. The technology can realize automatic lane changes and holds 360-degree vision.

Yu said 80% of China-based car brands priced over CNY300,000 (US$42,000) are equipped with L2+ products. The technology is on track to become the standard for models with a price tag of CNY200,000 as Horizon is working on some of the projects.

He also said Horizon and Nvidia remain in their leading position in the L2+ market thanks to their respective software ecosystem. The two companies both developed their software based on expertise in chips.

According to Yu, Horizon mass-produced more than 3 million Journey chips in the past three years, which enabled over 50 vehicle models. The company estimated the deliveries of the chip series in 2023 alone will surpass 3 million. The technology is used in over 120 car models, including Li ONE and Roewe RX5.

Yu said the industry has to focus on improving software development efficiency. In the coming years, the industry should strive to innovate in software algorithms and the closed-loop iteration of data to convince customers that it is worth paying more for greater computing power.

Horizon received an investment of EUR2.4 billion (US$2.59 billion) for software from Volkswagen in 2022 to set up a joint venture. It recently established a company with Changan Automobile Group to deepen collaborations for smart driving.

According to Horizon, its partners included automotive tier-1s, ODM/IDH and sensor suppliers as of the end of 2022. Its ecosystem contains businesses at the upstream and downstream supply chain, which can help tier-1s shorten the development cycles and reduce costs.