The Demonstration

Not only did NovAtel help Renesas choose the best low risk site for the demonstration, Safety Critical Systems Applications Engineer Kevin Doherty was on hand during the days leading up to the event to assist with setup. He was also there during the actual demonstration to provide support if any GNSS related issues came up. This enabled the Renesas team to focus on their own integration and what they needed to do to complete a successful demonstration—which they did, with absolutely no GNSS issues slowing them down.

Renesas CarThroughout the day, the vehicle drove media professionals around a fairly tight path outlined with red markers, never deviating or experiencing any interference issues, Doherty said. The path was filled with various situations the vehicle would encounter in the real world that it had to identify and address, including a traffic light. Through vision technology, the autonomous car could tell which colour the light was and determine when to slow down, when to keep going and when to stop. The path, which the vehicle completed dozens of times, also included a stop sign and a non-moving vehicle.

“We had another car on the track, so if the GPS reference was off those two cars would have hit each other,” Johnson explained. “The stop light was telling us its location, so again if the signal was off the vehicle wouldn’t stop at the proper spot.”

The goal of the demonstration was to show the Japanese market what Renesas is achieving in the area of driverless cars, which is a new market for the company. With Doherty and his team there to provide support, Johnson said he was confident that even if any GPS related issues came up, NovAtel would be able to quickly find a solution.

A Trusted Partner

In the short time Renesas has worked with NovAtel, Johnson and the rest of the team have learned a lot about GNSS from the experienced solution provider. Any time they have questions or concerns, they know NovAtel will provide them with the necessary support—even if it means traveling from Canada to Tokyo to help them properly prepare for an important, high-profile demonstration.

And NovAtel has learned a lot from Renesas as well, said Allan MacAulay, Business Development Manager, Safety Critical Systems.

“They’re already a leader in the automotive industry and they’re staking out a unique leadership position in their approach to autonomous vehicle technology and sensor fusion,” MacAulay said. “Being able to interact with a leader to get exposure and experience in the advanced early stages of self-driving and autonomous vehicle technology is very exciting for us. We’re learning a lot from them along the way while also contributing to their platform. It’s a good partnership because we bring different skills to the table.”

MacAulay also has been impressed with the company’s continued focus on safety and security, he said. As the Renesas team builds on the technology and capabilities they first unveiled at CES, safety remains a top priority.

Renesas has plans to hold more demonstrations in the future, Johnson said, and is currently working with NovAtel to ensure their next big event is a success: CES 2018.

That demonstration will involve live driving on the roads of Nevada, Doherty said, and NovAtel will be there again to ensure everything goes smoothly, just like it did in Tokyo.

“If we learned anything from this event, we learned that NovAtel is perfectly aligned with Renesas as a partner,” Johnson said. “They make high quality, functionally safe solutions, and provide extraordinary customer service.”