Automotive World 2024 Tokyo - Insights from our Head of Markets for Japan

Stowing away the last of the posters and equipment that helped us during the hectic week of Automotive World 2024, I can't help but recognize the shift happening in these trade shows, especially in Japan.

To provide some context, we at Kognic have initiated our expansion in Japan at the Tokyo Automotive World 2024 trade show.

If you're like me, a regular attendee at automotive trade shows of the late 2010s and to some extent post-pandemic, it was a vibrant place. A host of vehicles with different shapes and sizes adorned with an equally varied array of sensors. Everyone was proclaiming that Lv4 or even Lv5 is just around the corner. Even with Japan being a far more conservative market, you could sense optimism.

Fast forward to today, we all know that wasn't the case. Sure, advancements have been made and theories tested. But LiDARs did not get cheaper. Lv4 is as challenging as it was five years ago. Technology roadmaps are just pushed another five years back. And trade shows have returned to being "mature" places with one or two exceptions. Aside from what fancy consultancy reports would tell you, everyone who was still in the AD game was in it for the long haul.

Talking to various engineers at the show, the point that surprised me was how little people were discussing sensor fusion in Japan. As an ex-Lv4 startup employee, I won't say sensor fusion is the sole solution to autonomous driving, yet, compared to Europe or the US where you can't avoid discussions about it, many of the Japanese engineers answered, "we're getting there".


"The desperate need for autonomous technology in Japan still remains."



The Japanese industry has always been cautious about everything post 90s. And I can see a similar trend here where, regardless of what the western counterparts do, for better or worse, the Japanese manufacturers will maintain their course and pace.

However, this may not be a bad thing given that now, everyone is in it for the long haul. And Kognic’s solution of data management may well fit into this environment after all. The fundamental ideology behind the platform is that you can't brute force machine learning with massive amounts of data, hoping that you would end up with a brilliant product one day. Rather, careful selection is needed on what you feed it. Similar to an athlete carefully choosing what he or she eats, machine learning data needs to be prepared, not hoarded.

The desperate need for autonomous technology in Japan still remains. Many rural bus routes are disappearing, leaving the elderly with fewer options to get around or even go to the hospital. Truck drivers are in constant demand as regulations become far more stringent even under a dwindling and aging workforce. Japan must adapt to this and so the demand is there. All that is missing is an ecosystem that can undertake the job of developing autonomous driving for Japan in a smart and efficient way.

I'm excited for the future of Kognic in Japan - much to explore with our OEM and T1/T2 partners.