MADISON – With Mobileye acknowledged as the king of the hill in the hottest automotive vision market, it has become incumbent upon competitors to say that they’ve got “a Mobileye killer solution.”
Aspirations aside, though, no rival has yet demonstrated a credible solution of its own. At least, not yet.
Potential contenders, however, are saying that they’re ready to take on the challenge. During the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, companies ranging from MediaTek and Renesas to NXP and Ambarella, told us they are working on “alternatives” to Mobileye’s EyeQ chips. On the opening day of CES, On Semiconductor announced that it has licensed CEVA's imaging and vision platform for its automotive advanced driver assistance (ADAS) product lines.
Asked about who’s likely to become the next Mobileye and what it would take, industry analysts and players offered opposing views. Some declared the game already over, others believe the market remains wide open.
For example, Pierre Cambou, activity leader, Imaging & Sensors, Yole Développement, is the most pessimistic. He told us, “Image processor companies will hardly catch up with Mobileye. This is already too late, as the ecosystem is rather well defined now.”
Meanwhile, Mike Demler, a senior analyst at The Linley Group, believes, “There are a lot of openings here, and a lot of competitors.” He explained, “We tend to focus on the more far-out Level-3/4/5 systems, but Level 2 is still at an early stage of deployment.”
Gideon Wertheizer, CEO of CEVA, also believes there’s still a lot of room left for vision SoC vendors to compete – especially in ADAS and in-vehicle vision solutions (such as driver monitoring). By adding more smarts and vision SoC functions to their image sensors that are otherwise getting commoditized, “sensor guys have a potential to make it a lucrative business,” he told us.
Automotive Imaging Market Breakdown -- External processing share will increase to 30% of total cost (Source: Yole Développement)
But before getting into further analysis of the competitive landscape on vision SoCs, it is useful to segment the imaging market for the automotive sector. Image sensors, vision SoCs, sensor fusion
As Wertheizer pointed out, there are three segments: image sensors (generating imaging sensory data), vision SoCs capable of offering Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning and other functions, and sensor fusion (fusing data from multiple cameras and adding other sensory data from radar, lidar and V2X as redundancy).
Of the three, the sensor fusion market is likely to be most hotly contested. Mainly designed for autonomous cars such as Level 4 and Level 5, the sensor fusion chip is based on a high performance, multi-core architecture. It will be paired with a high computing power processor – like that of Intel and Nvidia – capable of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based “driving policy,” Wertheizer explained.
In his opinion, this still is an uncharted territory where there exists no industry standard, no industry consensus.
Next page: Playbook for Mobileye's rivals