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October 24, 2012

Intel Researchers Imagine Multicore Smart Cars

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

Researchers at Intel (News - Alert) have imagined a future of multicore, self-driving cars. Intel presented a demo of the car at Intel’s European Research and Innovation Conference in Barcelona.

In the view of the researchers, for cars to be able to navigate the roads safely and avoid pedestrians and other obstacles, the systems driving them must be multicore.

“We are looking far ahead to safe driving cars," Michael Konow, an engineering manager for Intel, based in Germany, told Computerworld. "We would need a lot of compute power for a car to understand that if there's a ball rolling on the street, there might be a kid running after it. This is very, very difficult. As humans, we have intuition. We need to find a way to get this intelligence into the system.”

The intelligence required for a computer to be able to drive a car safely requires so much computing power that in-car systems today are stuffed to the limit with single-core processors.

Engineers are forced, then, to turn to multicore chips, simply because they’re running out of space.

When multicore chips are incorporated into cars, the applications that developers could create are almost limitless.

"We'll start thinking of our cars more like we think of our laptops and phones -- updateable," Enno Luebers, a research scientist at Intel Labs Europe, told Computerworld.

Among the applications that the researchers have imagined include reporting potholes and other issues to local authorities as well as reporting traffic jams and accidents. Another would report the nearest parking garage to the driver. Users will be able to download custom applications for their cars the way they do for their smartphones and tablets today.

“The increasing use of Internet-connected software in cars would also force a greater emphasis on security. Over the last 20 or 30 years, [onboard car computers] weren't built with security in mind. It was not required," Konow said. "[Automakers] were looking to save costs. They did not need to design it to be secure."

Google (News - Alert) has also been experimenting with self-driving cars. The search giant has recently added Grand Canyon imagery to Google Maps.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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