Renesas Electronics Creates Self-Driving Car

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【Summary】An electronics company has created a self-driving car to showcase its wares.

Original Timothy Healey    Jan 09, 2017 6:15 AM PT
Renesas Electronics Creates Self-Driving Car
author: Timothy Healey    

Renesas Electronics has built a prototype for a fully autonomous car.

The prototype uses the company's semiconductors as part of the control system.

The Japan-based company is positioning the prototype as a demonstrator, as it looks to sell its semiconductors and other components to automakers.

It demonstrated the self-driving prototype on a test track at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which successfully closed last week.

The test track is about 300 meters long, with traffic lights and other obstacles set up. Some of the rides were being given to engineers who work for Renesas Electronics.

Renesas has worked with software programmers from both the U.S. and Europe on the control software and plans to continue to do so going forward.

The company is based in Tokyo, and it hopes its automotive experience can help it outduel well-known American competitors such as Intel and Qualcomm. It may have a leg up due to its automotive experience, since chips used in automotive applications need to be extra-durable. A supplier with previous automotive experience should have an easier time meeting that standard.

This is one more small step towards larger adoption of autonomous driving, since it shows that a self-driving car can be built on currently available software and hardware, but there's still a long way for automakers and suppliers to go before it becomes a reality.

Renesas' system uses radar to help the vehicle navigate around obstacles. According to the company, radar is more useful than cameras or lidar when it comes to guiding self-driving cars because it is less impacted by external environmental conditions, although their test car is equipped with lidar, cameras, and GPS software.

"It can be used by Tier 1s and OEMs to immediately prototype their functions in an embedded automotive ECU," said Renesas of its system. "It shortens time to market by enabling system developers to verify and integrate software easily on the prototype ECU designed to deliver a track to mass production vehicles."

Smartphone device maker Blackberry helped Renesas by providing the operating system and platform, and luxury automaker Lincoln – a division of Ford – provided a 2017 Lincoln MKZ as the test model.

"The collaboration with Renesas supports BlackBerry's mission to accelerate the commercial realization of connected and autonomous driving vehicles by developing production-ready software independently and in collaboration with partners," said John Wall, senior vice president and head of BlackBerry QNX.

"Autonomous vehicle development teams face significant challenges in transitioning from research and development to systems that meet automotive power, safety, and quality standards in a real-world environment," said Amrit Vivekanand, vice president of the Automotive business unit at Renesas Electronics America. "Through this collaboration on the self-driving prototype, Renesas and BlackBerry QNX are providing the teams access to an open laboratory and real-world environment, enabling them to accelerate autonomous driving production adaptation by providing low power, certified functional safety hardware and software solutions."

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