Renesas and CEVA to Develop a SoC for ADAS

CEVA from Herzlya, Israel, announced that Renesas has licensed its DSP technology to develop an automotive System-on-Chip (SoC) for a new ADAS system of a  a very large automotive manufacturer in Japan. “This is a monumental agreement”, said Gideon Wertheizer, CEO of CEVA, during the company’s earnings call for Q3, 2020. In fact, this design win put both CEVA and Renesas in a direct competition with Intel’s Mobileye and NVIDIA Drive.

Naoki Yoshida, Vice President at Renesas noted regardin the agreement: “In active safety and self-driving applications, DSP processing is a key IP for processing and segmenting sensor data generated by sensors on vehicles.” This is exactly what CEVA is doing: It provides IPs of Digital Signal Processors, AI processors, wireless platforms and complementary software for sensor fusion, image enhancement, computer vision, voice input and artificial intelligence.

During the conference call, Gideon Wertheizer revealed more interesting details: “The agreement is based on a project. Our customer (Renesas Electronics) won with a very large automotive manufacturer in Japan, for an ADAS solution for new L2+ and L3 cars, which are projected to start production by 2025. It’s a mid-range car, that means volume versus the premium part.”

CEVA is not unfamiliar with the automotive industry: It has Automotive agreements with On Semiconductor, Yamaha, Toshiba, Rohm, AutoTalks and others to provide IP blocks for Wi-Fi, V2X, cameras and more, but becoming a main technology provider for an ADAS system is something else. This is a strategic platform – the playground of giants. And it turns out that the giants may be too big for their clients.

Wertheizer: “NVIDIA and Mobileye push their own closed and vertically integrated solutions. But automotive Tier one and OEMs are seeking an open high-performance technology where they can take advantage of their in-house excellence while not being locked into a certain vendor. Our powerful DSPs, AI technologies and our collaborate business model set a comprehensive foundation that enable OEMs to become supplier agnostic and translate their innovation into a competitive edge.”

Knorr invests additional $10 million in Rail Vision

The Israeli Rail Vision signed a $10 million funding agreement with the German company Knorr-Bremse. The investment will be made at a company value of about $50 million, post-money valuation. This is a follow-on investment, arriving after an investment of $10 million made by the German company in March 2019. After the two investments, it will hold 36.79% of Rail Vision’s shares. The holdings of Foresight, which founded Rail Vision, will amount to 19.34%.

In addition, the agreement provides Real Vision with an option to call for an additional $5 million. Trains have difficulties dealing with unexpected obstacles because the braking distance of a high-speed moving train can reach up to half a mile on average, and so there is a need for a system that detects obstacles from a very long distance. Rail Vision has developed an early warning system that warns the locomotive driver of a potential collision with obstacles in all weather and lighting conditions. This is done using dedicated cameras that detect objects from a distance of slightly more than one mile (1.2 miles).

The camera array (pictured above) includes a visible light camera and two thermal cameras with complementary wavelengths. These in turn feed the information into an image processing and machine learning algorithm, which fuses all the information into a unified image and identifies the objects located on the train track. The algorithm is designed to identify objects relevant to the train’s setting, such as humans, animals, cars, bridges, interchanges, signs, signal marks along the track intended for the locomotive driver, etc.

Knorr’s investment is a strategic investment related to one of its key areas of activity. Its systems division manufactures braking, steering and control systems for trains and commercial vehicles. For the past 100 years, the parent company has been supplying driver assistance and braking systems for vehicles and trains. In 2019, its sales totaled about 6.6 billion euros.