Chipmaker NXP announced the release of its BlueBox computer for self-driving cars.
The BlueBox computer collects data from radar, Lidar, cameras, and other sensors, and then processes that data to create a real time model of the car’s physical surroundings for autonomous navigation.
NXP said that four of the world’s five biggest automakers are already using the BlueBox system in their self-driving car tests. The system can process 90 million instructions per second at less than 40 watts. That means the system uses less power than Nvidia’s competing Drive PX2 computer, which consumes nearly 250 watts, according to CNET’s Road Show blog.
The system first started shipping in September of last year, and is now widely available to the whole automotive industry. It will enable Level 4 autonomy under the standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), allowing a car to navigate autonomously most of the time, although a driver might need to take control in some situations. Level 5 autonomy on the SAE ‘s scale would be a fully driverless car without a steering wheel.
NXP is already the largest supplier of silicon chips for the automotive industry, and it has already shipped 30 million processors for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like collision avoidance and lane changing warning that are growing more common throughout the auto industry. Next level computers like the BlueBox and Nvidia’s Drive PX2 provide far more computing power than ADAS processors, so they can process mountains of data from a large number of sensors in real time for instant decision-making.
The introduction of this computer is a major step on the road to getting self-driving cars all over the road, which could happen sooner rather than later.
John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that examines the major strides automakers and tech companies have made to overcome the barriers currently preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the market. Further, the report examines global survey results showing where fully autonomous cars are highly desired.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: 1) high technological component prices; 2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology; and 3) relatively nonexistent regulations. However, in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
- Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
- Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
- California became the first US state to propose regulations. California’s regulations stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google’s and Uber’s idea of a driverless taxi system.
In full, the report:
- Examines consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicles
- Identifies technological advancements that have been made in the industry
- Analyzes the cost of fully autonomous technology and identifies how cost is being reduced
- Explains the current regulations surrounding fully autonomous cars
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