Elektor readers having visited trade shows like ESC in the USA and embedded world in Europe know that Renesas have quite a reputation for “powerful & packed” development and starter kits. Renesas’ latest kit is an up-market one for the really ambitious among you wanting to make a contribution to the car of the future. It's in the making and no, it won't be cheap.

The company says the R-Car V3M Starter Kit should help to simplify and speed up the development of NCAP (new car assessment program) front camera applications, surround view systems, and LiDARs. The kit is based on the existing R-Car V3M image recognition system-on-chip (SoC). By combining the R-Car V3M starter kit with supporting software and tools, system developers can easily develop front camera applications, contributing to reduced development efforts and faster time-to-market.

Renesas also announced an enhancement to the R-Car V3M by integrating a new, highly power-efficient hardware accelerator for high-performance convolutional neural networks (CNNs, Note 2), which enables features such as road detection or object classification that are increasingly used in automotive applications. The R-Car V3M’s innovative hardware accelerator enables CNNs to execute at ultra-low power consumption levels that cannot be reached when CNNs are running on CPUs or GPUs.

The new R-Car V3M Starter Kit, the R-Car V3M SoC, and supporting software and tools including Renesas’ open-source e² studio IDE integrated development environment (IDE), are part of Renesas’ open, innovative, and trusted Renesas autonom Platform for ADAS and automated driving that delivers total end-to-end solutions scaling from cloud to sensing and vehicle control.

The new starter kit is a ready-to-use kit. In addition to the required interface and tools, the kit provides essential components for ADAS and automated driving development, including 2-GB RAM, 4-GB eMMC (embedded multi-media controller) onboard memory, Ethernet, display outputs, and interfaces for debugging.

The R-Car V3M Starter Kit is supported by a Linux BSP (board support package), which is available through elinux.org. Further commercial operating systems will be made available from next year onwards. Codeplay will enable OpenC and SYC on the starter kit in Q1 2018. Further tools, sample code and application notes for computer vision and image processing will be provided throughout 2018.

In addition to the R-Car V3M Starter Kit, Renesas has enabled ultra-low power consumption for CNNs, which achieve image recognition and image classification, on the R-Car V3M SoC. The R-Car V3M allows the implementation of high-performance, low power consumption CNN networks in NCAP cameras that cannot be realized with traditional high power consuming CPU or GPU architectures.

The Renesas R-Car V3M is available now. The R-Car V3M Starter Kit with a Linux BSP will be available in Q1 2018 initially in limited quantities. A complete offering with an extended software solution is scheduled for Q3 2018.