Automobiles are the foundation of the next generation of mobile-connected devices, with rapid advances being made in autonomous vehicles. Autonomous application solutions are partitioned into various chips, called systems on a chip (SoCs). These chips connect sensors to actuators through interfaces and high-performance electronic controller units (ECUs).
Self-driving cars use a variety of these applications and technologies to gain 360-degree vision, both near (in the vehicle’s immediate vicinity) and far. That means hardware designs are using more advanced process nodes to meet ever-higher performance targets while simultaneously reducing demands on power and footprint.
ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) are passive and active safety systems designed to remove the human error component when operating vehicles of many types. ADAS systems use advanced technologies to assist the driver during driving, and thereby improve drivers’ performance. ADAS uses a combination of sensor technologies to perceive the world around the vehicle, and then either provide information to the driver or takes action when necessary.
Regardless of the number or types of sensors installed, in a PASSIVE ADAS system, the computer merely informs the driver of an unsafe condition. The driver must take action to prevent that condition from resulting in an accident. Typical warning methods include sounds and flashing lights, and sometimes even physical feedback, for example, a steering wheel that shakes to warn the driver that the lane they are moving into is occupied by another vehicle (blind spot detection).
In an ACTIVE ADAS system, the vehicle takes direct action. Examples of Active ADAS functions include:
Exactly as described, AEB systems will automatically brake in the event of an emergency. These systems will be linked to Forward Collision Detection, Object and Pedestrian Detection, and automatically apply the brakes when the driver is not acting in response to a detected threat.
The EU NCAP safety rating system attributes safety points to cars that have city-AEB and urban-AEB. City-AEB looks 6 to 8 m ahead, detects vehicles and large obstacles to avoid low speed impacts up to 20 km/h to avoid whiplash. Urban-AEB looks up to 200 m ahead and operates over the speed range of 50–80 km/h to avoid driver injuries.
Adaptive Light Control (ALC) systems react to changes in the environment around the vehicle and adjust the headlight settings on the vehicle. These systems can change the strength, direction, and rotation of the headlights. Glare-Free High Beam and Pixel Light have the ability to detect the lights of approaching vehicles, and redirect the headlights of the vehicle away from the oncoming driver to avoid temporarily blinding them.
When you were a child, did you ever think your family car would be outfitted with RADAR and SONAR as airplanes and submarines had? Did you even know what LiDAR was? Did you imagine flat-screen displays dominating the dashboard and a navigation system connected to satellites in space? It would have seemed like science fiction, and utterly out of reach for 100 years at least. But today, all of that and more are a reality.