Autonomous Vehicles and the Intelligent Edge

By Colm Lysaght - 2020-01-13

Autonomous cars will make you safer — because they sense more and act faster than we can.

With almost 30 years’ commitment to the automotive market and a leading market share, Micron is the undisputed leading supplier of memory to this market. We are excited about the opportunities that autonomous vehicles bring and the fact that our technology will enable the greatest disruption in transportation since the invention of the combustion engine.

Autonomous vehicles must collect and process large amounts of data from computer vision systems (cameras, radar and lasers) to detect and classify objects in real time. They must then convert this data into decisions immediately — when to brake or accelerate or turn — to proceed safely. The low latency needed requires the processing to be done in the vehicle. This is why autonomous vehicles are called “a data center on wheels” because the storage, memory and processing requirements are equivalent to those of a data center server. They are the ultimate “intelligent edge” device, and according to Statista , there will be more than 20 million of them on U.S. streets by 2030.

The rollout of 5G networks will add another capability. Autonomous vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and with the network to anticipate each other’s actions and coordinate their own responses. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication enables speed, location and proximity information to be shared wirelessly 10 times per second, creating a 360-degree awareness of nearby vehicles. The messages have a range of 300 meters and can detect dangers obscured by traffic, terrain or weather. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that V2V technology could prevent 615,000 crashes each year.

The combination of faster response times (50ms versus a human’s 250ms visual stimulus response time), superior information (360-degree observability augmented by V2V messaging versus a human’s limited field of view and hearing) and consistent behavior (autonomous vehicles don’t get tired or take their eyes off the road in the same way drivers do) means that autonomous vehicles are expected to drive more safely than even the best human drivers.

Micron’s technology is key to making autonomous vehicles a viable stand-alone intelligent edge device. Our DRAM is needed to provide the data quickly for real-time processing. Our SSDs provide the storage for map data, image data, sensor readings and program code, as well as the data being generated at a rate of 5GB each second. Our deep learning accelerator (DLA) platform provides an inference engine and complete SDK for machine learning at the edge, with high performance and low power. As the leading provider of memory and storage solutions for the automotive segment, Micron has a deep understanding of the needs of our automotive customers. We are excited to lead the way to autonomous vehicles and provide a safer, cleaner and more efficient transportation solution for the next century.

Micron is where the data lives. Micron — Intelligence Accelerated.

Colm Lysaght

Colm Lysaght

Colm Lysaght is Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy & Innovation at Micron Technology.