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CES 2020 Highlights Breadth of Arm Compute in Automotive

Exhibitors at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show showcased Arm solutions in new automotive products for the consumer market
By Chet Babla, VP Automotive, Arm

Another year, another Consumer Electronics Show (CES) packed with innovative technology. In the many years I’ve been coming to the show, I’ve seen it evolve from a launchpad for the year’s mainstream devices – televisions, laptops, smartphones – to encompass all manner of smart devices within the home and beyond.

As the head of automotive at Arm, it’s that ‘beyond’ I’m interested in – what happens when consumers leave their smart home and get into their car. That’s why I’ve spent this year walking the halls of the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center in search of the latest and greatest automotive innovations at CES 2020. Specifically, I was looking for the latest car tech powered by Arm technology—and as it turns out, I didn’t have to walk far.

Arm compute is everywhere in automotive

If last year’s CES was a showcase for the future of autonomous driving, at CES 2020 this year the focus was squarely on the digital cockpit, driving experience and the latest ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems). With this kind of innovation likely to affect consumers far sooner than they are to step into a self-driving car, it was great to see so many tangible demonstrations of the kind of technology we’ll get our hands on in the next year or two.

No one at CES 2020 captured the breadth of Arm-powered distributed compute within a vehicle quite as well as semiconductor manufacturer NXP did. The company – a collaborator in the recently-announced Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium (AVCC) – used an innovative physical demo to display the full range of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) present within today’s cars, much of it based on Arm technology. Featured in the demo was the NXP BlueBox Autonomous Driving Development Platform, the NXP GreenBox Vehicle Electrification Development Platform and a secure gateway based on the new S32G Vehicle Network Processor announced this week.

The humble dashboard becomes the digital cockpit

Anyone who spends more than a few minutes behind the wheel every day will know just how much the in-car experience matters for a safe, comfortable and enjoyable drive.

Samsung displayed a full-sized replica car interior it says represents the “Digital Cockpit 2020” at CES 2020. Up to four people can sit inside the demo, which incorporates 8 displays and 8 cameras. The demo is powered by Samsung’s Exynos Auto V9 SoC (system on chip) which features Arm Cortex-A CPUs and Arm Mali GPUs.

The front display supplies navigation and driving information to the driver, and a split screen mode allows the passenger to use the screen without affecting the driver. Passengers in the rear seats can use tablets mounted in the headrests of front seats to the digital cockpit to access vehicle controls and entertainment content. One of the most eye-catching features of this installation is a display running the width of the back of the car which can show tail lamps and communicate messages to people outside the car. As we’ve all wished we could relay a message to tailgaters at some point in the past, this particular function may need to be limited to a few polite phrases…

Green Hills Software also featured some interesting digital cockpit demos on its CES 2020 stand this year. But the most impressive exhibit on its stand was the latest generation Mahindra Racing all-electric Formula E car. Electric vehicle racing is a high pressure, competitive environment which demands a software platform with the highest efficiency, safety and security.

Mahindra has been using Green Hills Software INTEGRITY® RTOS and optimized development tools running on an Arm-based processor from Renesas to develop applications that operate with maximum performance and reliability. Part of the Mahindra Race to Road initiative, this is a notable example of how technology developed in racing can be applied to consumer road cars.

Electric powertrain: Not just a four-wheel game

Damon Motorcycles Hypersport

While we’re talking electric vehicles, BlackBerry’s CES 2020 presence featured the Hypersport from Damon Motorcycles, an all-electric bike boasting a face-flattening 200 horsepower, a 200mph top speed and a 200-mile range. The Hypersport can also adapt between sport mode and commuter mode, changing the position of the handlebars, windshield, footrest and seat for either a more aggressive or more relaxed riding position.

Safety is a priority in any vehicle, but ever more critical on a motorcycle – especially one of this calibre. The Hypersport’s safety-focused ADAS features are enormously positive news for bikers: front and rear cameras and radars provide the rider with a 360-degree view of traffic on the instrument cluster, supplying advance collision and blind spot warnings. These advanced ADAS features run on an Nvidia Jetson embedded compute platform featuring Arm-based processors and running BlackBerry’s QNX software.

Making progress on the road to autonomous driving

While many companies at CES 2020 chose to highlight the technologies hitting the road in the next few years, those dedicated to the vision of a truly autonomous driving experience showed clear progress. Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon Ride platform, featuring a family of system-on-chips (SoCs) and software to address the complexity of autonomous driving and ADAS. We’ve been working with Qualcomm to help integrate Arm functional safety solutions into Snapdragon Ride and improve the safety of autonomous driving technologies.

Snapdragon Ride

The platform is scalable to support different applications, L1/L2 ADAS, L2+ ADAS and L4 / L5 autonomous driving. One of the fundamental roadblocks surrounding autonomous drive is the physical size of the computer needed, and Qualcomm proved how far it’s come in this respect via a Snapdragon Ride platform installed in the trunk of a car that is small and energy efficient enough to be passively cooled. The platform will be available to automakers and tier 1 suppliers in the first half of this year.

Collaborating for the future of mobility

Arm’s vision is that compute power can transform mobility for the benefit of all, but as automotive systems become more complex they become more difficult to develop. We need to accelerate and simplify the development and testing process, while fostering innovation and collaboration within the automotive supply chain. At CES 2020 this year we announced a collaboration with Siemens to bring its PAVE360 platform together with Arm’s leading automotive IP.

By using the PAVE360 platform, automakers and suppliers can now simulate and validate complex Arm-based automotive systems and SoCs inside the context of a vehicle and its environment long before it is built. This allows a level of testing, optimization and validation not previously possible, enabling rapid innovation around system architectures, IP and software to meet the needs of the use case. PAVE360 can also help to verify the functional safety of a system, through showing how it perfoms in complex simulated scenarios. This collaboration will unlock new potential in the development of current and future automotive systems.

It has been truly exciting to see Arm partners using CES 2020 to demonstrate how they’re using our technology to develop solutions that will help the automotive industry to deliver the future of mobility.

There are many more of our partners demonstrating solutions for automotive at CES 2020 than I could cover in this article, so we’ve created this demo booklet in which you can find further details of their exciting Arm based innovations.

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Brian Fuller and Jack Melling
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