STMicroelectronics' contribution to the self-driving future:
STMicroelectronics is a world leader in providing semiconductors for smart things, smart homes, smart cities and smart people. STMs’ headquarters are based in Geneva, Switzerland, but the company has 35 offices spread across the planet. With almost 10,000 employees devoted to R&D and a slogan saying ‘Life augmented’ STMicroelectronics also devotes time in to field of smart cars and smart driving.
Where STMicroelectronics’ story begins with producing MCU’s or microcontrollers (= processors) for the automotive industry, STM now covers all aspects of the self-driving car by furnishing vision applications, positioning technology and car-to-car communication. By working together with Mobileye and Autotalks, STM has outlined the aspiration of building the central operating system of the future driverless car. An own STMicroelectronics self-driving car is not yet on the drawing board.
It is estimated that 80% of all innovations in the automotive industry today are directly or indirectly enabled by electronics, which means a constant increase for providers of semiconductors. When it comes to cars STMicroelectronics is one of the biggest manufacturer of semiconductors in the world, building anything from sensors, amplifiers or power supplies, to wireless modules, display screens and LED controllers.
Where STM stands out is the production of the MCUs or microcontrollers in all these applications. A microcontroller is a unit that processes inputs (for example from a sensor) and haves them trigger the right reaction (for example to push the brakes). STM’s product portfolio contains a comprehensive range of microcontrollers, from robust, low-cost 8-bit MCUs like the STM8AL up to high performance 32-bit processing units like the SPC5, designed for entry-level vehicle safety-critical applications including airbags, anti-lock braking systems and power steering.
IoC and Safety
Smart driving equals implementation of the internet. Connectivity to the web will bring a multitude of services to a vehicle and its owner, such as social media, (entertainment) content streaming, cloud applications, software updates, service packs, location-based information, and emergency support. So smart driving must also equal safe driving. Before we can safely enter a driverless era we need to be able to protect connected or autonomous against Internet-based attacks that can steal personal data or compromise important vehicle systems.
Therefor STMicroelectronics’ produces car MCUs like the SPC5 or the ST32G512A and ST33G1M2A which combine Ethernet and ISO CAN FD1 communication interfaces with the latest Hardware Security Module (HSM) technology and ESCRYPT Security solutions on the market to ensure functional integrity of the car’s Electronic Control Units (ECUs). It will be able to detect intrusions and protect against hackers attacking your driverless car.
Being a leading car technology provider, STMicroelectronics is now taking the next big leap: together with Mobileye and Autotalks it is manufacturing a central processing unit from the future car. Just like big competitors NXP (who introduced the BlueBox) or Nvidia (launching the Nvidia PX2) STM is moving from parts to whole, from a bunch of microprocessors to one supercomputer.
Mobileye is market leader in sensor fusion and advanced driver assistance based on vision. Together with STM they will soon be releasing a fifth generation system on a chip (SoC) that will collect and fuse the broad range of data being generated by the all the different sensors on a vehicle such as cameras, speed and motion sensors and radar. Release date of the EyeQ 5 is planned late 2018. Mobileye previous EyeQ versions have been bought and implemented by Tesla, General Motors, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Nissan and many more.
Autotalks is a V2X-chipset maker involved in the first wave of V2X deployments. Vehicle2Everything communication chips connect vehicles to other vehicles and infrastructure within wireless range for safety and mobility applications. Together with STMicroelectronics it is building a ‘V2X-Enhanced GNSS’, meaning a Global Navigation Satellite System for detailed positioning combined with V2X chips for inter-car communication.
Combining the three main pillars: sensor fusion – satellite positioning and – car2everything communication, STMicroelectronics’ control unit could well become the supercomputer driving all of us around one day. Or the main processor of the STMicroelectronics self-driving car.