Autonomous Driving and the Quest for Safety

Author : Samsung semiconductor Published Time : 2019-11-22

When it comes to the autonomous vehicle sector, the issue of safety is a primary concern. What’s more, ‘safety’ has a broad definition in the industry - it needs to encapsulate the safety of not just drivers and passengers, but that of other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

These complex safety concerns aren’t slowing developers down though. The autonomous vehicle industry is currently worth more than USD 50 billion globally and is expected to expand tenfold over the next decade. So, what exactly are the safety concerns surrounding the self-driving car industry, what kinds of forecasts are realistic for the sector, and how is Samsung contributing to the area?

How Safe do Autonomous Vehicles Need to Be?

In short, for self-driving cars to improve road safety, they would need to be safer than the average driver-controlled car. The technological requirements and amount of testing needed to reach this level of reliability are great, with experts predicting that millions of testing hours would need to be logged in preparation. Nonetheless, companies are ready to go the distance, with data collection from current customer-owned cars and samples taken from simulations the two main means of testing being employed right now.

One difficulty currently facing the advancement of the technology is the absence of a definitive framework dictating how safe a self-driving car must be before it can be allowed on the road. In the United States, for instance, legislation around autonomous vehicles differs from state to state, and adherence to the guidelines that are currently in place is voluntary.

As companies look to pull together the memory solutions required to make self-driving vehicles a reality, Samsung is contributing in a lot of meaningful ways. One example is the company’s recent release of its DVS (Dynamic Vision Sensor). Reasoning that to be as safe as a car driven by a human driver, an autonomous vehicle would need sensors that could match the recognition and processing power of the human eye, Samsung developed the DVS, which mimics the human retina to rapidly register changes in the surrounding environment.

Expectations for the Future

There are six levels of vehicle automation, ranging from 0 (no automation), to 5 (full automation). Level 1 automated cars can be seen on the road now, with their automation taking the form of features like adaptive cruise control, lane-centering assistance and emergency braking detection. Likewise, level 2 automated cars with driver-supervised capabilities such as steering and speed control are becoming more prominent on today’s roads. Level 4 and 5 automated cars are not expected to appear on roads for the foreseeable future, except in preset ‘geofenced’ areas.

In 2019, an array of Samsung automotive semiconductors received the ISO 26262 certification for functional safety in automotive solutions from respected third-party certifier TÜV Rheinland. This achievement suggested that Samsung’s processors, image sensors, memory and light-emitting diode products are ready to meet as meeting the industry’s scrupulous safety standards, allowing Samsung to continue accumulating development cases and make further improvements to reinforce functional safety management.

In a further contribution to the development of the industry, Samsung and the Korea Transportation Safety Authority have agreed to establish 4G LTE, 5G and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) telecommunications infrastructure to take steps towards enabling autonomous driving in South Korea. The test site will be established at ‘K-City’, where the company will provide read-world autonomous driving experiences for people and businesses connected to the industry.

Leading the Charge

In March of 2019, Samsung released a video introducing its four automotive memory solutions for autonomous vehicles. Samsung’s UFS, AutoSSD, LPDDR5 and GDDR6 products strive to ensure that feedback loops between driver and vehicle are as fast and as intelligent as possible. The introductory video can be seen here.

In particular, Samsung’s UFS (Universal Flash Storage) solution is directly impacting the area of safety for autonomous vehicles. The innovation allows for the further sophistication of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as well as next-level dashboards and infotainment systems that will provide an extensive range of connected features for drivers and passengers.

Assuring safety in the autonomous driving sector is an immense task, requiring a multitude of industry players to come together to make it a reality. But going forward, the sector can rest assured in the knowledge that Samsung is going to great lengths to ensure the industry is underpinned with high-quality memory, processor and sensor solutions.

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