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Xilinx and Continental Collaborate to Create Auto Industry’s First Production-Ready 4D Imaging Radar for Autonomous Driving

Xilinx, Inc. and Continental announced that Xilinx will power Continental’s new Advanced Radar Sensor (ARS) 540 with the Zynq® UltraScale+™ MPSoC platform, creating the automotive industry’s first production-ready 4D imaging radar. The collaboration enables newly-produced vehicles equipped with the ARS540 to realize SAE J3016 Level 2 functionalities and will pave the way toward Level 5 autonomous driving systems.

4D imaging radar determines an object’s location in range, azimuth, elevation, and relative speed to provide detailed information about the driving environment not provided by earlier automotive radar systems that capture only speed and azimuth. Continental’s ARS540 is a premium, long-range 4D imaging radar with high resolution and 300-meter range. Its wide, ± 60° field-of-view enables multi-hypothesis tracking for precise prediction while driving, which is critical for managing complex driving scenarios, such as the detection of a traffic jam under a bridge. In addition, the ARS540 system’s high horizontal and vertical resolution enables detection of potentially hazardous objects on the road and responds appropriately. By supporting SAE Level 2 where the human driver is responsible for supervising vehicle control, and extending to fully autonomous Level 5, the ARS540 showcases the scalable usage of the sensor.

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“The Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC platform delivers the high performance and advanced DSP capabilities we needed to realize the ARS540, combined with adaptability and a market-leading selection of network interfaces capable of handling the wide array of antenna data at extremely high aggregate transfer rates,” said Norbert Hammerschmidt, head of program management radar at Continental. “Continental recently won designs with leading European and US OEMs and is in ongoing discussions with additional OEMs worldwide regarding the ARS540. We are very proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Xilinx and to now provide the market with a technology that has the potential to save lives.”

The Xilinx Automotive (XA) Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC is an adaptable platform that allows Continental’s 4D imaging radar to be agnostic to multiple sensor-platform configurations and adapt to OEM specification. Parallel processing within the device’s programmable logic delivers optimal performance and enables the fully independent, yet simultaneous processing pipelines that are critical to the ARS540’s 4D sensing. The many digital signal processing (DSP) slices enable hardware acceleration of real-time radar sensor inputs.

Cédric Malaquin, technology & market analyst, RF Devices & Technology at Yole Développement (Yole), commented, “4D imaging radar provides greater range, field of view, and perception and is a critical sensor enabling Level 2 to Level 5 developers to deliver systems that help create a safer driving environment. We expect 4D imaging radar to take place in luxury cars and Robotaxis at first, leading to over US$550 million, a rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 124% between 2020 and 2025. Xilinx and Continental, two innovative market leaders have an excellent opportunity by teaming up to develop this new sensing modality.” (1)

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Willard Tu, senior director of automotive at Xilinx, added, “We are extremely pleased to be powering the industry’s first production-ready 4D imaging radar. The sophisticated features in Continental’s ARS540 accelerate the wider adoption of autonomous driving by bringing this advanced technology into passenger-owned vehicles. The combination of Continental’s heritage in radar and Xilinx’s legacy in adaptable silicon make this a very powerful offering.”

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