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August 18, 2022updated 19 Aug 2022 3:41pm

AI chipmaker helps OEMs shift from ADAS to AD

Israeli-based Hailo is partnering with Renesas to create a more compelling chip. To learn more, Matthew Beecham caught up with Yaniv Sulkes, VP of Product Marketing & Automotive at Hailo.

By Matthew Beecham

Safety systems like advanced driver assistance (ADAS) and automated driving (AD) have proven to be instrumental in minimizing accidents and saving lives. However, many critical features are only readily available in higher-end vehicles due to technological limitations. Hailo recently announced its collaboration with semiconductor supplier Renesas to deliver a more powerful and energy-efficient processing solution enabling more sophisticated ADAS and AD in motor vehicles. This new solution takes a major step towards democratizing key automotive technologies so more and more drivers can benefit.

Could you tell us a little about Hailo, your customers and investors?

Hailo is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chipmaker that has reimagined its AI processor, the Hailo-8, to deliver the performance of a data centre-class computer to edge devices, innovating industries across the board. The Hailo-8 enables efficient, secure, deep learning applications at scale.

Hailo works with manufacturers across industries that require AI-powered smart devices that operate at the edge. In automotive for example, Hailo works with leading OEMs and Tier-1 automotive companies on ADAS solutions, enabling them to process sensory information more efficiently, cost-effectively, and at greater speeds.

Hailo has raised $224M to date – the latest a $136M Series C funding round, the largest in the edge AI chip space at the time. Investors include prominent Israeli entrepreneurs Gil Agmon and Zohar Zisapel, as well as other VCs such as ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), Poalim Equity, Latitude Ventures, among others.

Do you want chips with that?

Could you explain your Hailo-8 processor and its USP?

The Hailo-8 edge AI chip acts as a co-processor, enabling high-performance AI processing for both ADAS perception and Automated Driving, complementing traditional automotive SoCs. A single Hailo-8 processor features up to 26 tera operations per second (TOPS), with area and power efficiency superior to other leading solutions by a considerable order of magnitude – all at a small size, including required memory.

Hailo’s chip vastly improves the capabilities of perception-related sensors in autonomous vehicles and ADAS systems. The Hailo-8 is built with an innovative architecture that enables vehicles to run state-of-the-art deep learning applications that were not previously possible in the power framework of traditional automotive ECUs, leading to improvements in collision avoidance, hazard detection, rear-collision warning, lane-change assist, and parking assist technologies. For example, the Hailo-8 upgrades the performance of rear-view and front-facing cameras, ADAS ECUs, and surround view systems.

By utilizing Hailo’s processor, vehicles on the road to autonomy can harness the power of a full “data centre on wheels” via a chip the size of a penny.

Who are you partnering with to develop your technology? 

Hailo continues to work with a broad array of companies. Hailo recently partnered with MooVita, a high-tech company designing and deploying roadworthy autonomous driving solutions. The new MooBox system includes the latest state-of-the-art ADAS capabilities for enhancing road safety by monitoring and analyzing driver behavior in public transportation. MooBox’s ADAS capabilities are powered by the Hailo-8.

Hailo and Renesas, a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, recently collaborated to deliver a power-efficient processing solution enabling ADAS functions and automated driving (AD) systems in motor vehicles. The joint Hailo-Renesas solution will make sophisticated ADAS technology more accessible in cars of all types.

ADAS is a fast-evolving landscape. While we are seeing an acceleration of level 1 and 2 driving automation, there are delays in higher levels due to the lack of an established regulatory framework and the technical challenge of providing safety in all driving situations. In terms of Level 2+ for cars, how do you see the market evolving?

We see the market likely heading towards Level 2 and even Level 2+ in the coming years. Level 2+ refers to additional safety and comfort features that have been built on top of traditional ADAS applications to help the driver control the vehicle.

We expect more and more players to focus on ADAS applications. Additionally, we expect to see higher performance of Level 1 and Level 2 ADAS in the future, which will hopefully reduce accidents and casualties considerably.

As the automotive industry shifts toward higher levels of driver autonomy, what are the opportunities for your business?

As more and more advances are made in the automotive industry and we reach higher levels of autonomy, more sensors will be required with increased vehicular responsibility for driving. Processing visual data for insights accurately and efficiently (such as identifying pedestrians, vehicles and road conditions) are a must. In the perception phase, high-resolution sensory data will need to be processed in real-time. Hailo is providing the solutions that enable this new era of mobility.

As traffic issues become more complex, we – and our cities and cars – must become smarter about how we understand and manage traffic.  How do you see the demand for intelligent traffic analytics evolving?

Traffic issues continue to become more and more complex. We – and our cities and cars – must become smarter about how we understand and manage traffic. This will accelerate the demand for  intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) needed to power a future of smart cities. 

Many of the current challenges in edge devices can be solved by a new generation of AI at the edge, which accommodates multiple sensors and robust analytic functionality for traffic monitoring.

To improve traffic management, ITS solutions, powered by edge AI, are being deployed to monitor intersections and road segments, especially in bottleneck areas. Real-time monitoring is used for smart red-light optimization that reacts to traffic in the intersection and the roads feeding it. When deployed in multiple intersections and optimized across a network of monitored locations, such solutions can provide meaningful relief for congestion. They can also be used to improve public transport services – helping improve public alternatives with the goal of minimizing the number of vehicles on the road.

Driver monitoring for fatigue and distraction has become a major focus of automotive safety regulators and governments worldwide. This trend looks set to continue in SAE level 2 (partial) and 3 (conditional) semi-autonomous vehicles. To what extent are regulations driving increasing demand for DMS (Euro NCAP, EU GSR, SAFE act of 2020)?

Road accidents and casualties have only increased over the years, and more and more regulations have been put into place to protect drivers and pedestrians. Mainstream Level 2/2+ ADAS systems currently under development are aimed at keeping drivers and pedestrians safe.

One example is VRU (vulnerable road user) detection. Many accidents involve VRUs, so the motivation to improve ADAS capabilities in detecting VRUs is quite high. Sensors are being developed with improved resolution, accuracy and coverage, which will enable much better detection of VRUs.

Likewise, driver monitoring in conjunction with ADAS features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance has become crucial to avoiding situations in which drivers take their attention off the road. Regulatory requirements are promoting better integration of driver monitoring and in-cabin monitoring with ADAS to better assist drivers to keep their attention on the road.

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