Freescale to offer OpenCL platform for ADAS and autonomous driving systems development

November 11, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Freescale Semiconductor has announced its intention to offer an OpenCL-based platform, which it says will be key to addressing automated driver assistance systems (ADAS) safety and quality with dedicated products built from ground up for auto-grade requirements.

Freescale cites two problem areas; the lack of open standards for ADAS system development, and the common-but-empty premise that consumer-focused silicon solutions are safe enough for critical autonomous automotive applications.

The forthcoming OpenCL (Open Computing Language)-based automotive development environment will be engineered, Freescale says, to open the market for car OEMs and tier-one suppliers alike to bring advanced driver assist and other ADAS technologies to a wider range of vehicles, faster.

The company is positioning its move as responding to the current lack of open standards, to reverse what it sees as the trend toward closed, proprietary ADAS systems which inhibit development and stifle design innovation. Freescale will offer an OpenCL development environment for ADAS systems targeting Freescale silicon and engineered to reduce R&D overhead – effectively democratising the ADAS development process. OpenCL is an open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming. It greatly improves speed and responsiveness for a wide spectrum of applications in numerous markets. OpenCL is an open standard maintained by the non-profit technology consortium Khronos Group.

Despite the increasing publicity surrounding them, autonomous vehicles will simply not exist on a commercial scale without safe, reliable and secure solutions. Freescale believes that the assertion that consumer-oriented silicon solutions designed to enhance gaming graphics or run smartphone apps are safe enough to ensure autonomous driving-quality and reliability in automotive applications presents significant risk to the automotive industry. Freescale offers its SafeAssure Functional Safety Program, with MCUs, sensors and analogue ICs, as well as support for functional safety application design that includes training, safety documentation and technical support. The company says its Qorivva MPC5643L was the industry's first microcontroller to achieve a formal ISO 26262 certificate for ASIL D functional safety capability by an independent third-party accredited certification body.