Ambarella Makes Self Driving Car Tech Using 20 Cameras

(Ambarella EVA tech working live)

Every auto manufacturer is either making or looking into making self-driving cars. It's the wave that no-one can seem to stop. Pretty soon it'll be like Demolition Man where you can choose to drive to your destination or let the car take you. Let's just hope there's more to eat along the way than just Taco Bell.

Almost all the companies that are making either the tech or the cars themselves that makes autonomous driving possible use Lidar... almost all of them. Ambarella, a company known more for its camera sensors and image technology is trying to combat the dangers of autonomous driving without the use of Lidar. 

Now, Lidar is a pretty fancy techno term. For those not in the know, it basically means laser-radar. Like radar used in old submarine movies, Lidar can sense incoming objects and then direct the vehicle around the obstacles. 

Ambarella has developed it's EVA, an Embedded Vehicle Autonomy vehicle (based around a Lincoln) that uses the companies CVFlow architecture and 20-camera set up with sixteen of them powered by its own CV1 image and processing SoCs (Systems on a chip). If that sounds like a mouthful, get ready for this. 

When the Eva needs to use long-range detection it uses six of Ambarella's SuperCam3 4K stereo cameras that are placed in a hexagon pattern on top of the car providing a full 360-degree coverage. 

The cameras use Sony sensors, like everyone else in the world, Sony IMX317 to be exact, but they use their own CV1 Vision SoCs. What the heck is that you ask? Well, to quote their own press release regarding the CV1:

"We are delighted to introduce CV1, the first in a new family of 4K computer vision processors based on our CVflow architecture," said Fermi Wang, CEO of Ambarella. "CV1 combines Ambarella's traditional strength in high-resolution imaging for human vision with stereo and neural network processing for advanced computer vision. It will provide customers with a highly programmable and high-performance platform to develop the next generation of intelligent vehicles, drones and IP security cameras."

So, there you go. They turn camera sensors into computer eyes. Check out this video from them that shows how their tech creates a virtual world around the car instead of relying on Lidar.

For more information, head on over to EXTREME TECH to read David Cardinal's in-person experience with Ambarella's EVA.