One of the key highlights of Nissan's LEAF electric car is its automated parking system called ProPilot Park. While auto-parking systems have been featured in high-end luxury cars for quite some time, parking assist technologies are now moving to entry- and mid-level cars. In other words, 3D surround view solutions to assist drivers during parking and low-speed maneuvers are now available to lower-priced vehicles.
The surround view systems — comprising of smart camera solutions — combine the display functionality with object recognition capabilities and provide an all-round panorama view to assist drivers during parking. Nissan LEAF's auto parking design first recognizes the parking space of adequate size and detects any obstacles using a computer vision system-on-chip (SoC). Then it employs an MCU to take control of acceleration, brakes, shifting, and steering and guides the car into a parking spot automatically.
[Figure 1 | The automated parking system in Nissan LEAF electric car is based on the R-Car V3M vision chip from Renesas.]
The vision SoC is optimized for the smart camera and surround view systems. It features parallel image processing for low-power image rendering, so you don't have to implement an image signal processor (ISP) for each camera.
The R-Car V3M chip from Renesas takes high-resolution images from multiple CMOS cameras and performs signal processing. It employs the IMP-X5 computer vision engine to enable object recognition tasks like pedestrian and lane departure detection. The automotive SoC also complies with functional safety requirements.
The vision SoC creates a 360-degree surround view and free view-points at power consumption lower than GPUs. It works alongside an MCU that takes the chassis control commands from the SoC and passes them on to various ECUs. The RH850 microcontroller from Renesas performs control functions to drive automated parking system.
[Figure 2 | The vision part (left) and the control part (right) work hand-in-hand to create an automated parking system.]
Nissan LEAF's leap to automated parking is a testament to the fact that lower-priced cars can now offer automated car features. That's partly due to the availability of chip and software solutions that car OEMs and Tier 1 companies can quickly customize to create surround view-based auto-parking systems.
The automated car features are gradually making inroads, and we may see more driver assistance technologies coming to low- and mid-range cars in the coming days. Parking — a difficult aspect for many drivers — is apparently a good start.