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Horizon Robotics Plots ADAS Journey

February 23, 2021

Author: Mike Demler

Horizon Robotics is an AI-processor unicorn, and then some. This month’s new tranche pushed its total investment to an astounding $1.8 billion. Those funds have allowed the five-year-old startup to hire more than one thousand employees to help develop its Journey roadmap, which it hopes will take it from Level 2 ADASs to Level 4 autonomous driving in the next two years.

In 1Q20, Journey 2 shipped in its first production vehicles: Chang’an UNI-T SUVs, which use the chip for driver monitoring, cockpit-function personalization, and front-camera ADAS. In 2Q20, Horizon sampled Journey 3, which executes five trillion operations per second (TOPS)—25% more AI throughput than Journey 2.

Whereas Journey 2 targets Level 2 ADAS functions that involve simultaneous acceleration/braking and steering control, such as lane-keeping assist (LKA), Journey 3 supports more-advanced capabilities often described as Level 2+. Automotive suppliers apply that label to functions that allow intermittent hands-free operation, such as traffic-jam assist. Because such tasks need higher-resolution surround-view cameras, Journey 3 sports a new ISP that doubles video bandwidth.

Although Journey 3 is scheduled to enter production in 2Q21, the company also plans to sample its successor, Journey 5, that same quarter. In keeping with Chinese superstition, it’s skipping the dreaded number four. Journey 5 ambitiously aims to deliver a huge 25x boost in neural-network throughput, enabling support for Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving. Horizon disclosed a few high-level architectural details, but it declined to reveal which process technology it plans to use. We expect it will shrink to 7nm, similar to Mobileye’s EyeQ5 and Nvidia’s Orin AV processors.

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