Davide Santo, Safety and Chassis Segment Manager, Freescale Semiconductor

Davide Santo, Safety and Chassis Segment Manager, Freescale Semiconductor

Freescale Semiconductor's advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technologies include chipset solutions for airbags, and sensor technologies that deliver board-level functionality for automotive systems. More specifically, its ADAS applications include a range of cameras and surround view park assistance systems. In this interview, Matthew Beecham talked with Davide Santo, Safety and Chassis Segment Manager, Freescale Semiconductor about the market for certain camera and sensor based ADAS systems.

Radar-based safety technologies such as advance collision warning and blind-spot detection are becoming common place as optional equipment on new vehicles. While the possibilities to "assist the driver" seem endless, is there a risk of information overload?

There is certainly the potential to have increased amounts of information available to help the driver avoid critical situations and minimize the risks to his or her safety, but a system integrator can always calibrate and decide how much of the information to make visible to the driver and under what conditions. Given that, I don't see the risk of overloading a driver as being critical at this point.

Driver assistance technologies are evolving rapidly.  Just looking back, say 3 - 4 years ago at what was predicted in terms of the application of camera-based technologies, how has that now played out in Europe and North America?

Three or four year ago the prediction was that by the end of the decade the first autonomous or partially autonomous cars would be available. Key applications like pedestrian detection and proximity sensing were outlined already even if their safety impact was not clearly known. What I think is happening now is a sort of acceleration of the introduction of the applications and there is a more focus on the safety impact now that the ISO26262 standard has become official.

As we understand it, multi-function cameras are forming a core technology for advanced DAS.  These cameras will be cheaper, more effective and easier to integrate than radar and infra-red systems.  Is that correct?

It is fair to expect that camera sensors will be less expensive than the more sophisticated radar or near/Far IR sensors but their integration remains as complex as those other systems. In the end, a combination of these safety systems is needed to determine a safer and more comprehensive ADAS system and it is a better set up for partially autonomous safe vehicles.

What can these multi-function cameras offer?

Camera sensors offer a relatively simple way to create a relatively complete model of the space surrounding the car during day time, thus allowing the near sensing application to take place. This is the key to implementing city assisted driving systems, which is the most complex step toward semi-autonomous driving.

Traffic sign recognition is a clear benefit of camera-based technologies in the West.  How do you see this market evolving in Europe and North America?

Personally I think this is the least interesting of all the ADAS application as today most of the navigation systems incorporate traffic signs data (especially speed limit signs). I think the key application will instead be pedestrian detection and avoidance.

While we can see such multi-function cameras on the high-end and medium segment cars, do you see this technology permeating down to the low-end at all in Europe?

Low end vehicles will have the potential to have simpler/smaller ADAS bundles,  such as high beam control and lane assistance.

What about rear facing cameras?  What do you see happening in North America?

North America is expected to adopt a rear facing camera to display the area behind the car when it is in reverse and then object/people detection, distance estimation and parking assist. Europe will probably start with the smart enhanced backup camera and go from there.

Could existing reverse parking sensors play a greater role in partial and full parking assistance systems?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE research service