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Automotive development platforms rev up with Linux

Jan 11, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,087 views

Linux-driven automotive computing initiatives advanced at CES with Hyundai joining Automotive Grade Linux, and Baidu, Intel, and Nvidia unveiling new assisted and autonomous driving platforms.

This week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is even more dominated by automotive news than last year, with scores of announcements of new in-vehicle development platforms, automotive 5G services, self-driving concept cars, automotive cockpit UIs, assisted driving systems, and a host of electric vehicles. We’ve also seen numerous systems that provide Google Assistant or Alexa-driven in-vehicle interfaces such as Anker’s Google Assistant based Roav Bolt.

Baidu Apollo 3.5
test car

Here we take a brief look at some of the major Linux-driven automotive development platforms announced at CES. The news includes Hyundai joining the Automotive Grade Linux project, as well as self-driving or assisted ADAS platforms from Baidu, Intel, and Nvidia.


Hyundai jumps on AGL bandwagon

Just prior to the launch of CES, the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project announced that South Korean automotive giant Hyundai has joined the group as a Bronze member. The news follows last month’s addition of BearingPoint, BedRock Systems, Big Lake Software, Cognomotiv, and Dellfer to the AGL project. In October, AGL announced seven other new members, including its first Chinese car manufacturer — Sitech Electric Automotive.

Hyundai’s membership does not commit it to using the group’s Unified Code Base (UCB) reference distribution for automotive in-vehicle infotainment. Yet, it’s another example of the growing support for the open source, Linux-based IVI stack.

Several major carmakers are members, including Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi Electric, and Suzuki. Toyota is the only AGL automotive manufacturer to ship IVI systems based on UCB in most of its major models, ranging from the Camry to its Lexus cars. In June, AGL announced that Mercedes-Benz Vans was using UCB for upcoming vans, and we can expect more AGL commitments in 2019.

Automotive Grade Linux booth at CES 2019 with 20 demos surrounding an AGL-equipped 2019 Toyota RAV4
(click image to enlarge)

At the Westgate Hotel Pavilion (booth 1614) in Las Vegas this week, AGL is showing off a 2019 Toyota RAV4 equipped with AGL systems. AGL members are offering demonstrations of AGL-based connected car services, audio innovations, instrument cluster, and security solutions.

Baidu releases open source Apollo 3.5 self-driving software

AGL is not the only automotive project offering an open source solution. For the past year, Chinese search and cloud giant Baidu has been developing its Linux-driven Apollo stack for self-driving cars. At CES, it announced Apollo 3.5, with new support for “complex urban and suburban driving scenarios.” A hardware platform is available with an Intel Core based Neousys industrial computer equipped with an Nvidia graphics card. Other components include Baidu’s own sensor fusion unit.

Baidu Apollo 3.5 test car detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Baidu also announced an Apollo Enterprise platform built on top of Apollo designed for autonomous fleet operations. In addition, it revealed an open source OpenEdge cloud-enabled edge computing platform with development boards based on NXP and Intel technologies. The latter is designed for in-car video analytics and incorporates Intel’s Mobileye technology. Details were sketchy, however.

Intel AV

At CES, Intel unveiled an Intel AV compute platform aimed at autonomous cars. It features a pair of Linux-driven Mobileye EyeQ5 sensor processing chips and a new Intel Atom 3xx4 CPU.

Intel AV’s Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) model in action (left) and Mobileye EyeQ5 block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Intel AV system provides 60 percent greater performance at the same 30W consumption as Nvidia’s automotive focused Jetson Xavier processor, claims Intel. The Mobileye EyeQ5 processors are each claimed to generate 24 trillion deep learning operations per second (TOPS) at 10W each. The Atom 3xx4 chip borrows high-end multi-threading and virtualization technologies from Intel’s Xeon processors for running different tasks simultaneously on different systems around the car.

Volkswagen and Nissan have announced plans to use the earlier EyeQ4 processor when it launches later this year. EyeQ5 production won’t begin until 2020, but later this year Intel will release an EyeQ5 Linux SDK with support for OpenCL, deep learning deployment tools, and adaptive AUTOSAR.

Nvidia Drive Autopilot

Intel is playing catch-up with Nvidia in the autonomous vehicle computer contest. In recent years, Nvidia has increasingly focused on the automotive business, launching one of the first independent self-driving car computers with its Drive PX Pegasus system based on its newly shipping, octa-core Arm-based Jetson AGX Xavier module. At CES, it followed up with a Xavier-based Nvidia Drive Autopilot system.

Nvidia Drive AGX board for Nvidia Drive Autopilot
(click image to enlarge)

Unlike the fully autonomous, “Level 5” Drive PX Pegasus, the Drive Autopilot is designed for Level 2 assisted ADAS systems. Due to ship in vehicles in 2020, the system features a claimed 30 TOPS AI performance and provides “complete surround camera sensor data from outside the vehicle and inside the cabin.”

Drive Autopilot integrates a new Drive IX software stack that can map and memorize typical routes to improve performance in the future. It also enables driverless highway merge, lane change, and lane splits, and as well as driver monitoring and AI copilot capabilities. We saw no OS details, but presumably Drive Autopilot runs the same Tegra4Linux build used on other Xavier based systems.

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