Under the Hood Automotive

Enabling electronics to make automobiles safer

ARM and its partners are increasingly focused on driver assistance systems that help a driver detect and avoid obstacles. These include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control to help the vehicle maintain safe distance from the car in front
  • Automated Parking
  • Automatic, Anti-lock Braking Systems
  • Camera and Sensors that alert drivers to objects in their path when reversing
  • Electronic Stability Control, which intervenes to avert an impending loss of control
  • Lane Departure Detection warning systems to alert the driver of an unintended departure from the intended lane of travel
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring
  • Vision Systems to improve nighttime “sight”

Coupled with the engine control unit (ECU) that is used to manage the engine itself (whether it be a petrol driven engine, a hybrid or an electric vehicle), these are the applications where ARM is focusing its efforts “under the hood”.


In the United States a pedestrian is injured by an automobile every 8 minutes, and are 1.5 times more likely than a vehicle's occupants to be killed in an automobile crash per outing. Improvements in roadway and automobile designs have steadily reduced injury and death rates. Auto collisions remain the leading cause of injury-related deaths, with nearly two-thirds of those affected being pedestrians. Much is discussed about the use of electronics inside automobiles to entertain. However, there is a larger ecosystem focused on enabling electronics to make automobiles safer. This takes the forms of “active safety” where technology assists in the prevention of a crash and "passive safety" that help to protect occupants during a crash.

All of these applications place incredible strains on the system designers to deliver reliable platforms. When a brake is applied, the car must immediately stop safely. People’s lives depend on it. These requirements place tight restrictions on the provider of intellectual property to guarantee real-time responses to events that occur in a predictable way and ensure systems continue to operate safely in the case of component failure.

ARM has been working with its silicon partners, software partners and electronics suppliers to car manufacturers to ensure this level of reliability is provided. Features like automated parity checking and error correction for soft and hard errors, dual core lock-step configuration with redundant cores and bounded low-latency response to interrupts have been added to the Cortex-R family in order to specifically address these types of automotive applications.

Comprehensive system debug during the development phase and capture of real-time data in deployed systems. ARM’s Coresight interface, supported by a wide range of specialized analysis and debugging tools, is one of the most powerful debug frameworks.

ARM also works with its partners to deliver the core design methodology and testing specifications to enable System on Chip devices based on these processors to meet the various types of industrial certification used in this space, including ISO26262 and IEC16508.

In the area of ECUs, ARM’s value proposition of low power is particularly relevant for electric vehicles and hybrids. The Cortex-M0 processor is quickly becoming the defacto standard product for managing batteries in these energy constrained systems.



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