PORTLAND, Ore.--Parking assistance systems that give drivers a 360-degree view of obstacles around them are currently only available on high-end models, but Freescale Semiconductor Inc.--working with engineers at BMW--claims to have created a technology capable of reducing the cost enough to make them standard equipment.
"Freescale and BMW have cooperated on the definition of a new generation of Qorivva 32-bit microcontrollers, which we believe will enable surround-camera parking assistance systems to migrate to a broader range of vehicles," said Allan McAuslin, product marketing manager of safety and chassis microcontrollers at Freescale.
Key to the new microcontroller technology is its ability to compress the video from up to five cameras mounted on an automobile’s four corners--plus a backup camera--then stitch the images together in to a complete 360-degree image that can be displayed on the dashboard (usually in a donut-shape). Built on the Power Architecture, the new 32-bit Qorivva MPC5604E eliminates the need for costly individual video cables (at $10 each) by sending all image data over a single Fast Ethernet in-vehicle network.
Using compressed JPEG images, the Qorivva microcontroller is able to use a single cheap two-wire Ethernet cable to send the time-stamped video using the Autosar realtime operating system. As a result, BMW aims to debut the technology in its lower-end models. Freescale is also working with other automobile makers worldwide to assist them in switching to compressed video over Fast Ethernet, eventually hoping to make 360-degree parking assistance systems standard equipment on most models.
Freescale's new Qorivva 32-bit micro controller based on an e200 Power Architecture core has hardware JPEG video compression and Fast Ethernet to cut the cost of 360-degree view parking assistance.
Similar to stitching operations performed by high-end applications like Photoshop for panoramas, the four images are aligned then distorted into a donut shape. Check out an example at: http://bit.ly/jAcyR9
This sounds like interesting technology. However, how safe is it for a driver to pay attention the road in real-time with the 360 view drawing away peripheral vision. Technology cannot ultimately replace the human driver's five senses that are important for driving. However, I'm wondering how well the implications of this technology would be for folks that need assistance. This may even be great for an aging population and education a younger population with safer driving habits. After all, technology this cool will hopefully make drivers more aware as it reduces "blind spots"--yet the video output may give a "video game-type" feel which could also be a hazard.
I wonder if it will pass for car insurance discounts because it is supposed to be an advanced safety feature.
There are many pros and cons and I would love to see more demos like the one you've provided. In addition, the image could some day be interactive and even be integrated into gps for smarter real-time navigation.
Do we really need such advanced technology for parking a car? I agree parking a car is not as easy as popping peanuts into ones mouth but it's no rocket science either. C'mon, people have been parking their cars for more than a century now with needing any artificial aid. Some help like a a reversing camera for big vehicles is reasonable but 360 deg for parking, a big joke if they expect anyone to pay for it.
I was talking to friends the other day and we were thinking that there haven't been many advances in technology lately.
I guess it's like every other improvement in life: we know how to till land, that doesn't mean we'll stop at using horses. All improvements give way to applied research which may one day find an even better application, so when strong technology leaders go on and leap to another type of assistance, I say they shouldn't be criticized.
I do agree with the fact that driving has been around for a while, but we've introduced automatic gear shifting and we don't have to have wrestler biceps to turn the wheel nowadays. There are some things which are really useful for professional drivers nowadays...
I drove a car in Japan with such features in 2008! I have to confess that it's very cool to see on screen and it makes reverse parking a doddle. That said, I still enjoy the challenge of parking into tight spots armed with nothing but my driving skills :-)
I think the question is 'is it innovation for innovation sake?'. Is it game-changing, forget life changing? ;) I am reminded of 'Modern Times' where there is an automatic 'food feeding' machine to cut down lunch time and increase productivity :))
My worry is that we become so dependent on these technologies that we lose the "skill" of manual driving altogether! Let's hope driving examinations will keep up the standards.... or have separate grades of driving licences depending on which class of cars you drive.
I think that a collision assistance and estimation would be valuable using a 3D system perhaps based on vision. For parking it is helpful although the distortion from cameras is tough - again, some kind for visual warning with distances would be more useful than just pretty pictures.
Regarding technology in the car - my 23 year old metro got better mileage than a Prius although the Prius is more comfortable - still, with EFI and the benefit of 20 years of microprocessors and controls as well as other technologies a Prius should do better...I guess the biggest change we can see in looking at cars from 20 years ago vs today is about 40% more horsepower per displacement - 600hp sedans and 200hp+ is considered under powered by some people??? I think the technology we need to work on most are ones which will educate consumers to buy cars and devices using a bit more reason and a little less testosterone. Sorry for the rant....
If it keep someone from bumping into my car or my person while they're parking, then I fine with people becoming dependent on it. At least until a robotic brain parks the car.
It is amazing to think of all of the skills we've done away with over the last century. Most of us have become so very far from self-sufficient that the skills we lose due to automated assists in cars and other products really won't impact our quality of life.
I cant agree more! Yes, we are automating ourselves to obsolescence! We are automating, 100 people did what was once done by 1000 people, 10 people did what was once done by 100 people, now 1 person can do what 10 people did. Tomorrow even that one person is not needed, Robot will do that. Last nail in the coffin, you see ;)
You guys have to stop watching so many Terminator movies! BMW is not talking about implanting these things into your eyes or cortex. The skill set is constantly changing in your jobs, so why can't you accept that it is changing for driving technology as well? I welcome a day when being safe on the road does not depend on an operator's skill.
I've seen RFQ's for this project from multiple automotive part mfg's over the last three years. The detail left out in the article is that the 'camera view' displayed on the dash has been translated (digitally)from the camera's horizontal view to a top view around the car. The difficulty from the camera design side is what to do with all the heat from a small fast ethernet output camera (about 1W.)
Likely a neat idea for a new car. A brand new Volvo XC90 was impossible park by using old-school skills. It needed a backview camera.
Due to trends in car exterior design, 360deg view capability will make possible in a 2015 model year BMW, what you could do much easier without technology in a 1985 BMW: Parallel park, or back-out of your drive way.
If the electronics in my 2007 BMW are any indication, we could all be in for a fun ride when all these gadgets get older than 4 years...
As a Pilot of many years I have watched and taken advantage of much of the new technology. I have found it very helpful and GPS changed the way we fly and our situational awareness. However, when things go wrong, and they sometimes do, it is good to know how to had fly the bugger without all the aids. Having said this, if it saves one little kid from getting run over then it was worth it, just remember to be look out with or without the system
Seems interesting, considering that it is quite a big step from the single rear camera that we have in cars right now. If they can really mass produce this technology without significant hikes in production costs, I can really see it in many cars in the near future.
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