NXP teams with a French company on a self-driving car chips

(Reuters) – Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV said on Tuesday the team with a French chip company Kalray SA craft computers for self-driving cars, in an effort they hope will ease the path to winning the future adoption of the computers of the security of the supervisors.

FILE PHOTO: The CES logo displayed at the Las Vegas Convention Center, workers prepare for 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

NXP has long supplied chips to the automotive market and offers deep ties in this industry, one of the reasons that Qualcomm Inc agreed to pay $44 billion for the company, although the deal was eventually abandoned.

But NXP has never specialized in the kind of heavy-duty computing chips needed for the interpretation of the mass of the sensor data that helps self-driving cars “see” the road.

Since the Qualcomm deal fell apart last year after failing to win Chinese regulatory approval, NXP has sought to chart a new path, while larger rivals, such as her former lover and Nvidia Corp to push deeper into the burgeoning self-driving car computer market with ever more powerful processors.

For obtaining of the computing muscle needed to help cars “see”, NXP said on Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be the team with a 10-year-old French chip company that started in the airline industry. Kalray makes what is known as a parallel processor, which, similar to chips made by Nvidia, excels in the processing of the visual data that cars use to see the road.

Kalray Chief Executive Eric Baissus told Reuters in an interview that the chip reliability has long been the company itself through the air and space history. The chips have 288 so-called nuclei, each of which independently, so that if no other can take over without the chip missing a beat.

“The whole architecture is designed with security in mind,” he said.

Kamal Khouri, head of NXP’s advanced driver assistance unit, said in an interview that car manufacturers have told the Dutch chip company that proving the safety of self-driving computers is a major challenge. That may be harder when the two elements of self-drive – interpreting the data of the sensors with which the car see the road, and the so-called path-planning decisions about how to drive – be combined.

Khouri said car manufacturers think that it will be easier to prove systems are safe in a segmented system such as NXP, where Kalray, the chips will have to see and NXP’s chip to make driving decisions.

“It’s not so much about the use of technology that is out there is about us to question how we solve some of these very complex security problems,” he said.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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