Xilinx silicon powers Continental’s advanced radar sensor to deploy in vehicles in 2021

Xilinx Zinq silicon runs inside the advanced radar sensor built by Continental for use in vehicles starting next year. The sensor uses 4D radar that can see the height of overpasses. (Xilinx)

Xilinx worked with Continental to create the auto industry’s first production-ready 4D imaging radar, going into production in vehicles next year.

Continental’s Advanced Radar Sensor (ARS) 540 runs Xilinx Zync UltraScale+  multiprocessor system-on-chip and will be installed in the front of SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance vehicles and eventually help pave the way to high level autonomous driving vehicles, according to Xilinx and Continental on Wednesday.

4D radar offers more details about driving environments when earlier systems sometimes captured only speed and angle.  The improvements allow for capturing the range of objects up to 300 meters away as well as elevation, which is useful for knowing the height of a bridge or a tunnel to reduce the possibility of a collision, according to Willard Tu, senior director of automotive at Xilinx.

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Continental said in a statement that is has a long partnership with Xilinx and credited Zynq with delivering the high performance and advanced digital signal processing needed for the new ARS540.  Continental is in the midst of ongoing discussions with carmakers worldwide to install the sensor in vehicles, the company said.

In August, Continental announced it had already produced 30 million radar sensors at a plant in Texas, both ARS systems and short-range radar systems.

Zynq makes Continental’s 4D imaging radar agnostic to multiple sensor platforms for adapting to various designs. DSP enables hardware acceleration for real-time radar sensor inputs.

Market analysis firm Yole Developpement expects 4D imaging radar will be use in luxury cars and robotaxis at first and will grow at an annual rate of 124% through 2025.

While a camera sensor will use inferred data about what it sees, the ARS540 uses actual data to detect objects, Tu said in an interview with Fierce Electronics.

In one example, Tu said some older sensors see a line of cars as a long bus which could result in missing that a single car could pull suddenly out of line and pose a chance for a collision. ARS540 would have greater capacity to see the individual cars in line with the possibility one could pull out of line.

Xilinx has been steadily developing a variety of silicon systems for use in vehicle sensing capabilities and has the top spot in providing LiDAR digital processing to the industry as well as imaging radar, Tu said. 

“LiDAR digital investment is hot,” Tu said, even as COVID-19 has forced a drop off in auto sales and production in the U.S. and Europe.  Some analysts have forecast a delay in research and development of assisted and autonomous driving systems due to the pandemic. 

Broadly speaking, the auto industry investment in assisted driving tech development “has decreased temporarily with COVID and some companies are not making as deep of an investment,” Tu said.  “But Xilinx has not slowed down because of COVID. We continue to plow ahead with ADAS.”

RELATED:  Telechips teams with Xilinx on SoC for vehicle infotainment

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