Week in Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Baidu’s robotaxis; robosubs; Microsoft-Siemens security deal; supply chain security; side-channel protection; Renesas’ new industrial MPUs.


Automotive and Mobility
Search engine giant Baidu said Monday it is the first company to secure permits to operate robotaxis in China without a human safety driver. Baidu’s Apollo and Toyota-backed Pony.ai already operate robotaxis with backup drivers in Beijing. Also this week, smartphone maker Xiaomi said it is running autonomous driving tests on 140 vehicles in China. Xiaomi announced it would enter the electric vehicle sector last year and now has 500 employees working on self-driving technology for an upcoming car.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles accused Tesla of misleading customers about the Autopilot and Full Self Driving features in its vehicles. Regulators claim the company has created the impression those technologies have broader capabilities than are actually present.

Experts say a truly self-driving, Level 5 autonomous car is at least a decade away from hitting the road. Here’s why.

Foxconn’s Ohio facility will begin building driver-optional electric tractors early next year for the California company Monarch Tractor. “This partnership reflects Foxconn’s growing center of gravity for autonomous vehicle production,” said Young Liu, chairman of Hon Hai, as Foxconn is known in China and Taiwan.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research held its annual RoboSub student competition for autonomous underwater vehicles. The National University of Singapore won the Autonomy Challenge event, which involved autonomously navigating an AUV through a variety of underwater tasks.

Microsoft selected Siemens to participate in the U.S. Department of Defense’s RAMP Phase II program. The program, for which Microsoft has been designated a central partner, involves designing secure design and prototyping capabilities “to demonstrate how the DoD can securely leverage state-of-the-art microelectronics technologies without depending on a closed-security architecture fabrication process or facility.” Siemens initially will focus on back-end chip design via its Calibre platform. “Expanding our cloud collaboration with Microsoft Azure Government is expected to generate valuable insights that can be fed back into the RAMP program in an effort to enhance the design and security of next-generation integrated circuits derived from the DoD’s RAMP program,” said Michael Buehler-Garcia, vice president for Calibre Design Solutions Product Management at Siemens.

New research commissioned in part by Synopsys shows that 73% of organizations surveyed have increased their software supply chain security as a result of attacks like Log4Shell, SolarWinds, and Kaseya. “With the recent US Presidential Executive Order (14028) to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, there is significant interest around the importance of a concept known as a software Bill of Materials,” said Tim Mackey, principal security strategist within the Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center. “This knowledge is critical when designing a patch management process, as without it there is an incomplete view of the software risks present in any application — regardless of origin.”

Riscure released a new version of its Inspector software, which provides side channel analysis and fault injection. The update includes integration with the Keysight Infiniium MXR058A oscilloscope, as well as several user experience updates.

Protecting users from motion sickness and hackers are just two of the many challenges associated with designing virtual reality technology.

Pervasive Computing and Connectivity
Amazon will acquire Roomba robotic vacuum maker iRobot in a deal that values the robot company at about $1.7 billion. Speculations abound regarding the business strategy behind the transaction, including Amazon’s focus on ambient intelligence and access to home-mapping data.

Renesas has released new microprocessor units for industrial ethernet communication. “Revising the full design of equipment in order to implement industrial ethernet functionality creates a substantial development burden in terms of both time and cost,” Hitoshi Shirakabe, vice president of the Industrial Automation Business Division at Renesas. “To address this challenge, Renesas developed the RZ/N2L, which is optimized as an add-on to existing systems. I am confident that it will enable customers to quickly deploy cutting-edge industrial networks with minimal system modifications.”

Infineon acquired Industrial Analytics, a startup that develops AI-based predictive analysis solutions for industrial equipment based on variations in vibration.

Call for Papers
Hardwear.io has issued a call for papers for its Netherlands conference that takes place October 27-28. Submission categories include new research, current research, workshop, and tools across a wide variety of security topics. The deadline is August 15. There is also a bug bounty scholarship and a student scholarship.

Upcoming Events
Aug. 21-23, Hot Chips (virtual).

Aug. 21-25, SPIE Optics and Photonics, San Diego, CA.

Sep. 5-6, DVCon, Bangalore, India.

Find more chip industry events here.

In Case You Missed It
Find the August Automotive, Security and Pervasive Computing newsletter here, including these highlights:
  • Chip Backdoors: Assessing The Threat
  • Cities Strive for More Smarts, Security
  • Level 5 Autonomous Cars
  • Is Standardization Required For Security

Want to know how the chip shortage is impacting earnings for automakers? The answer can be found here.

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