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Toyota selects Renesas chips for self-driving cars

The Japanese carmaker plans to launch autonomous vehicles with Renesas chips in 2020.

Japanese semiconductor maker Renesas announced Tuesday that Toyota has selected two of its chips to power the autonomous features in the self-driving cars it plans to commercially launch in 2020.

The combination of chips will provide Toyota's "Highway Teammate" feature with capabilities like peripheral recognition, driving judgments, and body control, Renesas said.

Specifically, Renesas will provide Toyota with its R-Car system-on-chip (SoC), which serves as an "electronic brain" for both advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and in-vehicle infotainment. The R-Car SoC will be a part of an engine control unit from Denso, a Toyota components supplier.

Additionally, Toyota will use Renesas' RH850 microcontroller (MCU) for automotive control capabilities -- like driving, steering and braking functions -- based on the judgments made by the R-Car SoC.

Traditional chipmakers like Renesas and Intel have in recent years turned their focus to the automotive market, and Renesas is already a leading supplier of automotive processors. The company says plans to make autonomous driving systems for all types of vehicles, ranging from entry- to high-level models.

Meanwhile, Toyota is racing against other traditional carmakers to launch self-driving cars. Ford and GM have said they plan to have fully autonomous cars for sale by 2021. In early 2017, Toyota Research Institute CEO Gill Pratt warned that the automotive sector is "not even close" to launching fully autonomous vehicles.

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