- Driver Assistance Systems
- Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
- Automated Driving Systems
Competition Heating Up In the Driver Assist Market
For more than a decade, Israel’s Mobileye has been the dominant player in the market for vision-based advanced driver assist systems (ADASs). Of the more than 100 million vehicles on the road today with ADAS that includes at least one forward-looking camera, the vast majority contain software and processors from Mobileye. However, in the past several years, there has been a shift away from the market leader as competitors such as NVIDIA and Qualcomm grab an ever larger slice of the market.
A competitive marketplace is almost always a good thing as it pushes all of the players to improve their products, and the ADAS landscape is definitely one in need of improvement. Despite the increasing availability of ADAS on new vehicles, it has yet to yield any measurable improvement in road safety as crashes and fatalities have risen dramatically in recent years including a 10.5% spike in road fatalities in the US in 2021.
NVIDIA with its Xavier and Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors and Qualcomm with the Snapdragon Ride platform have taken direct aim at Mobileye. Automakers including Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Xpeng, and Nio are launching models with NVIDIA SoCs while General Motors, Volkswagen, and BMW have opted for Qualcomm. While both companies have developed extremely powerful and efficient SoCs to compete with Mobileye’s EyeQ family, the chips aren’t the only factor at play in the decision-making process.
Most automakers acknowledge that Mobileye has led the industry in developing computer vision technology for ADAS that includes a full-stack solution of both hardware and software. The key is that until now, customers have had to accept that full stack as a black box with little opportunity to make modifications or customizations, which has led to some frustration.
Both NVIDIA and Qualcomm offer customers a suite of software solutions that automakers can build upon to create unique solutions. In the case of NVIDIA, the company offers a complete stack including perception and path planning along with tools to develop the in-vehicle user interface. For now, Qualcomm’s Arriver software is focused on perception, but the San Diego-based company also provides SoCs used for infotainment and instrument clusters and corresponding software. Both companies collaborate with customers to build brand-specific solutions.
Mobileye has seen the writing on the wall and released the EyeQ Kit. Built on its next-generation EyeQ6 and EyeQ Ultra SoCs, the kit provides automakers with a full software development kit to integrate machine vision, path planning, and mapping with other capabilities of the vehicle. An example of how this might be used is new augmented reality heads up displays (AR-HUD). Traditional HUDs display basic information in a single plane that appears to float over the hood of the vehicle. An AR-HUD has multiple planes. For example, navigation prompts appear to hover over the intersection for a turn. Using the EyeQ Kit vision algorithms, pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic signals can be highlighted in the AR-HUD to provide drivers with greater situational awareness.
Mobileye is also providing automakers with greater access to use the computing power of its new SoCs to run other functions. Most of the industry is migrating toward a more centralized electronic architecture for new vehicles that consolidates the current distributed electronic control units, which may number 100 or more to just a handful. Like Orin and Snapdragon Ride, the EyeQ Ultra aims to be a key component of these next-generation architectures. Mobileye has done much to move automotive active safety technology forward over the past two decades, but real competition has arrived and it is learning to adapt. This should be good for everyone and hopefully lead to safer vehicles.