On April 29, 2022, Valeo has produced its one hundred millionth automotive nearfield camera, which gives the car its rear and surround vision, at its Tuam site in Ireland (around 850 employees).
The first camera rolled off the Irish production lines in 2002. Eight years later, in 2010, one million units were delivered to customers. In 2013, the ten-millionth camera threshold was hit, and in 2015, the figure doubled to 20 million. Between 2015 and 2018, output increased 30-fold compared with the first eight years, with 30 million cameras manufactured in three years, for a total of 50 million. The four years between 2018 and 2022 saw total production double and cross the 100 million camera mark. The Tuam site is at the heart of this industrial success, to which three other Valeo plants around the world have contributed (another in Europe, one in North America, one in Asia).
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, declares: “Congratulations to the entire Valeo team on this really significant milestone at the company’s Tuam site. Since 2007, Valeo has created approximately 600 jobs in Galway. Reaching one hundred million cameras is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the expertise and talent of every member of staff. I’m really happy to hear of the company’s plans to do more, to further increase camera production over the next four years and wish the team continued success.”
“From a small, innovative and dynamic company, capable of being the leading camera supplier to automakers in Europe in the early 2000s, the Tuam site, acquired by Valeo in 2007, has transformed into a global giant in the field of vehicle vision,” said Marc Vrecko, President of Valeo’s Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems Business Group. “And things are about to move up another gear. We now plan to produce more than 20 million cameras a year and globally deliver as many units to our automaker customers in the next four years as we did in the last 15, meaning another 100 million cameras by 2026.”
These 100 million cameras would not have been possible if Valeo had not successfully accomplished three revolutions. The first was in the field of industrial performance, where mass production made high-tech systems widely accessible across the world. Then came the safety and comfort revolution, which made it possible to see what was previously invisible and thereby ensure safer and easier mobility. Last was the intelligence revolution, when artificial intelligence algorithms and the associated software became core components of Valeo’s vision systems, enabling new capabilities such as through-the-body vision and autonomous parking and driving features.
Valeo has an extensive Research and Development center integrated into the Tuam site with a wide range of Product and Process Engineering skills in Mechatronics, Systems & Software as well as Test and Validation. More than 70% of its staff are engineers with coding expertise who have developed innovative features for the automotive industry. One example is image fusion technology, which creates a single snapshot from multiple video sources. This is how today, when drivers in many cars around the world shift into reverse, they can see their vehicle as if it were filmed from above by a drone – even though no such drone exists. The stream of images filmed, recorded and processed by artificial intelligence provides enough data for cars to reach level 2+ automation. In 2022, an important worldwide Valeo customer will release a vehicle equipped with this smart camera. It will have advanced assistance and automation features, both for parking (low-speed maneuvers) and for driving.
Today, Valeo’s cameras are set apart by their miniaturization, accuracy (providing a sharp image in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +85°C with a resolution of up to 3 megapixels) and precision (manufacturing down to the micrometer), as well as by their computing power, which has taken on as much importance as optics. Altogether, this makes Valeo, and its Tuam site, a world leader in automotive vision. It is, in some respects, the application of mathematician Isaac Newton’s February 1675 quote: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”.
Valeo is already number one in the world in advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), equipping one in three new cars globally with its technologies, and intends to accelerate even further in this field. Its cameras play an essential role in this acceleration. The Group announced this objective in February 2022 with the launch of its Move Up plan, the value creation strategy at the heart of the four megatrends that are disrupting mobility (electrification, ADAS, reinvention of the interior experience and lighting).