MADISON, Wis. – While Nvidia and Intel are busy sparring for glory as innovators of fully autonomous vehicle platforms, Texas Instruments, focused on ADAS, has kept its profile low.
It’s not that TI is indifferent to autonomy. It’s just that TI, one of the leading automotive chip suppliers, sees a different way to get there. Its plan is to use its current ADAS-focused platform to eventually enable Level 4, Level 5 autonomous car.
In a recent interview with EE Times, Brooke Williams, business manager in the automotive ADAS business unit at Texas Instruments, said TI has been actively participating in carmakers’ RFQs on models four to five years out. Some of the RFQs are for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous cars. Others address ADAS features to achieve 5-star ratings. “We support all of their requests,” said Williams.
Above all, TI’s priority is responding to “needs for system-level safety across the board” — all cars, all models, according to Williams.
TI’s strengths lie in 30 years of ASIL D-level safety experience and a litany of TI technologies that include power management, analog devices, networking solutions such as LVDS and Ethernet, and sensors including radars, he said. The only automotive electronics devices TI doesn’t offer are CMOS image sensors and memory.
This “system-level safety” argument might seem to be just TI talking points. But the company’s financial results demonstrate how well a modest strategy — focused more on Level 2 autonomous cars — has worked so far. TI reported in April better-than-expected first quarter revenue growth driven primarily by strong sales to the automotive and industrial markets.
Phil Magney, founder and principal advisor for Vision Systems Intelligence (VSI), noted, “TI does not subscribe to massive architectural overhauls.” He pointed out, “For TI, it is all about incremental ADAS features which become the enablers to automation. TI is not concerned with L4 and L5 at the moment. In time their architectures will support advanced levels of automation but for now they are targeting automotive safety and convenience features because that is where the money is.”
‘No wholesale change in platform’
OK. So, today’s TI is all about ADAS.
But really, what are the plans, if any, for TI to shift its current ADAS platform to Level 4/Level 5 autonomy? During the interview, TI’s Williams noted, “We don’t believe a wholesale change in the platform is needed” to add autonomy to cars.
That view, however, has triggered a host of questions from automotive industry analysts.
Next page: TI's AI strategy