Concentrating intelligence to realize autonomous driving

May 14, 2018

By Lakshmi Mandyam, Vice President, Automotive, Arm

Car buyers today are offered a wide range of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) meeting the level 2 autonomous criteria. Automakers are now racing to increase levels of autonomy as they build the next generation of self-driving vehicles. As they face the impending challenges of broad deployment of highly autonomous vehicles, they need safe, efficient compute platforms to facilitate this rapid evolution.

Levels of autonomy

The automotive industry is partnering with Arm and its ecosystem to help solve the challenge of the large amounts of computational power needed to sense, perceive, and react, while staying within the strict power, space and thermal requirements of a modern vehicle. Arm’s Cortex-A and Cortex-R processors provide the perfect platform to build complex autonomous compute systems that process all the way from the initial sensor fusion applications, through to the objection identification and perception processing, and the final real-time safety-critical actuation function.

OSR Enterprises has produced a new autonomous vehicle compute platform utilizing Arm technology

Automakers are exploring alternative approaches to vehicle computing to meet these challenges. OSR Enterprises AG is a Swiss Tier 1 automotive supplier with R&D centers both in Switzerland and Israel. Their approach is shifting from traditional decentralized architectures with 100s of ECUs to a more centralized architecture to cope with the demands of higher levels of autonomy. This centralized platform can enable automotive manufacturers to deploy level 3,4 and 5 autonomous systems while staying within the power constraints that enable simpler thermal designs and longer vehicle range. A centralized architecture can offer scalability as more autonomous functions are added, while maintaining the strict safety and security needed to protect the vehicle and its occupants.

OSR has developed a unique multi-domain centralized architecture for autonomous driving from the ground up. They have invested in leading artificial intelligence and cybersecurity technologies to deliver the intelligent decision making to enable these higher levels of autonomy, resulting in the EVOLVER platform, a multi- domain AI brain to control and manage autonomous driving functions in a practical way.

Through the EVOLVER platform, automakers can consolidate multiple electronic control units (ECUs) into a single system, centralizing the vehicle’s main logic, while giving each ECU domain its own AI functionality. They have developed a sophisticated hardware and software architecture that takes advantage of diversified technologies including multi-core Arm Cortex-A based SoCs, and also harnesses the virtualization technology enabled in the Arm v8-A architecture to provide secure multi-domain functionality.

One Platform Per Car

The EVOLVER platform is intended to enable automakers to realize mass-production autonomous driving and personalized user experiences all from one platform without compromising safety or security. It is purpose-built for automotive and complies with strict automotive safety standards such as ISO 26262. By utilizing the safety and real-time characteristics of Arm Cortex-R processors, deterministic behaviour can be guaranteed and safety islands can be created within the architecture to offer different Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL) within a single system.

OSR launched the third generation of their EVOLVER platform during the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt in September 2017, which includes, among others, multiple Arm Cortex-A57, Cortex-A53 and Cortex-R7 dual lock step cores. The current EVOLVER platform is designed to allow efficient deployment without requiring additional power that would compromise driving range or fuel consumption. The small form factor of the EVOLVER system also allows for upgrading existing vehicle configurations without compromising cabin or luggage space away from passengers and impacting the user experience.

OSR is now working on their 4th generation platform, using new automotive safety and security solutions from Arm to enable even tighter coupling of their unique hardware and software IP with the Arm compute engines.

As we continue to collaborate, OSR and Arm are driving toward a practical new future in autonomous driving, enabling intelligent, power efficient solutions that redefine what our cars are capable of. Truly autonomous vehicles require high levels of compute, safety and scalability – and Arm is committed to providing the building blocks to create and deploy these secure systems. This project is one of the exciting collaborations in the Arm ecosystem, watch this space for more news on the work we’re undertaking with partners to make autonomous vehicles a reality.

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