The sensor fusion in vehicles is leading to a new era of information sharing from almost all components of a car, including chassis, suspension and rapidly taking off Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). According to network-on-chip (NoC) interconnect IP solution provider Arteris Inc., as more cameras and sensors are added to cars, the scale of the electronics content required to make sense of this information will also go up.
In other words, computational consolidation is taking place with bigger system-on-chip (SoC) devices that are gradually replacing MCUs built into car’s electronics subsystems. The so-called ‘computational consolidation’ comes as a result of the advent of more powerful SoCs needed to take information from all sensors, put it together and make it ready for apps.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS
(Image: Marvell Technology)
Kurt Shuler, VP of Marketing at Arteris, told SemiWiki that sensor fusion is a much harder job in cars where there are so many objects to watch and these objects are mostly in a state of relative motion. Take ADAS feature, for instance, which tracks road conditions, lanes, pedestrians, etc. The ADAS technology is making a proactive use of low-cost sensors and cameras to improve car safety and help avoid road accidents, which makes it a key highlight of the connected car movement. And, for ADAS sockets, traditional MCU guys are consolidating into bigger chips.
Arteris is betting big on connected car standards like ADAS and the bigger SoCs that are becoming imperative to make ADAS a commercial success. The Campbell, California–based firm has recently joined hands with Yogitech S.p.A. to add functional safety verification IP on top of its FlexNoC Resilience Package IP solution. The partnership between Arteris and Yogitech will allow car SoC designers to automate the required ISO 26262 test coverage and fault injection needed for the car safety certification.
Arteris and Yogitech: ISO 26262 certification solution
(Image: Arteris Inc.)
Shuler said that ADAS is all about functional safety. He added that the promise of ADAS and car safety has attracted new entrants into the automotive SoC market. Shuler mentioned Nvidia and Qualcomm. “There are a lot of consumer electronics companies that have experience with camera and application processor technology and they are attacking hard on the ADAS market.”
An ADAS Success Story
Shuler recalls how the notion of ADAS initially remained lackluster mostly because of its reliance on expensive radars. Then, there came Mobileye, one of Arteris customers, which put cheap mobile phone cameras into cars and supported them with a strong software algorithm and necessary processing power through the EyeQ chip. Mobileye developed the EyeQ image processing chip in collaboration with STMicroelectronics back in 2006.
Camera and processing module
Mobileye’s ADAS technology was based on a vision system that used a single-chip, which in turn, significantly reduced cost and packaging complexity for car OEMs. However, at that time, Mobileye didn’t get much attention from tier-one car vendors. So it began selling its ADAS technology in the aftermarket to existing vehicle owners.
Mobileye set up a subsidiary in Los Angeles to pitch its ADAS technology to distributors for use in truck fleets as well as to individual car owners for about US$1,000 a unit. It also signed up with distributors in Europe and Japan. The value proposition became apparent in a couple of years and seven of the top 10 auto industry suppliers, including Continental, Delphi and Magna International, eventually installed Mobileye’s ADAS technology.
Fast forward to 2015, Mobileye claims that its ADAS feature will be available in 237 car models from 20 car OEMs, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Moreover,according to a recent press release from STMicroelectronics, EyeQ vision processor has been deployed in more than one million vehicles around the world. Mobileye went public in July 2014 and now has a market cap of US$10 billion.
Mobileye’s ADAS technology employs a combination of forward-facing cameras and low-cost radars to detect pedestrians, cyclists, construction zones, barriers and debris on the road. It can also analyze traffic lights and road signs.
A monocular camera magnifies images and then uses software to calibrate how much time is needed to brake to avoid a collision. An alarm goes off if the driver gets too close; the system can automatically hit the brakes if the driver is not able to respond to the threat in a given time.
V2V/V2I: Long Way to Go
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) schemes—sometimes collectively known as V2X—are commonly pinned as a car safety standard competing with ADAS technology within the larger connected car landscape. However, as Arteris’ Shuler pointed out, V2V and V2I technologies have a long way to go.
For a start, there will be a lot of conflict on who invests in the road safety infrastructure—public sector or private sector. States, countries and municipalities will have to see ROI before they can justify investing in V2V and V2I technologies.
Then, Governments around the world have to be involved to balance public and private interests, ranging from frequency spectrum allocation to public rights of way to private property for infrastructure. That can take years, even decades to have V2V and V2I standards and enough infrastructure development in place where a lot of companies can compete.
Connected car: ADAS vs. V2V/V2I
Meanwhile, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States will require all new cars under 10,000 pounds to have rear-view cameras by 2018. Shuler said this requirement will create a ready-made socket for adding more advanced ADAS technology.
Shuler added that in-car infrastructure components will come quicker than public infrastructure, and that favors the ADAS technology that is here and is building momentum one chip at a time.