Archive for November, 2013

Xilinx’s Comprehensive Functional Safety Design Package Enables Smarter Factories and Medical Equipment

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

TÜV SÜD certified design methodology and tools increase design productivity and reduce certification risks

Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) today announced its comprehensive functional safety design package for industrial, automotive, medical, aerospace and defense applications according to IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 safety standards. Xilinx’s functional safety package includes a TÜV SÜDcertified design methodology and tools that increase design productivity and reduce certification risks.  Learn more about Xilinx’s All Programmable solutions for smarter factories and functional safety design package by visiting Booth #6-111 at SPS/IPC Drives, November 26-28, at the Nuremburg Exhibition Hall in Nuremburg, Germany.   

“Xilinx has worked with TÜV SÜD to ease the burden for system design teams that are faced with the selection of system components and design methodologies that meet established industry standards and functional safety design concerns,” said Christoph Fritsch, director of industrial, scientific and medical market segments for Xilinx. “By leveraging Xilinx’s functional safety design flow solution, system designers can accelerate their certification process, reduce design costs, and ensure their products comply with worldwide standards.”

Xilinx’s certified functional safety design methodologies allow system designers to deliver highly differentiated, highly integrated safety compliant solutions with the fastest time to market. The Isolation Design Flow (IDF) and Isolation Verification Tools (IVT) provide a unique and automated methodology to separate system- critical and non-system-critical functions within the same FPGA through physical area isolation.   The independent designs, in isolated locations, can be changed at any time without impacting other isolated locations, which reduces design complexity and development time. For more information visit: www.xilinx.com/applications/isolation-design-flow/index.htm.  

Availability
            Design teams can start using Xilinx’s comprehensive functional safety design package today. Please contact your local Xilinx sales representative for more information or visit www.xilinx.com/applications/isolation-design-flow/index.htm.  

About Xilinx
Xilinx is the world’s leading provider of All Programmable FPGAs, SoCs and 3D ICs. These industry-leading devices are coupled with a next-generation design environment and IP to serve a broad range of customer needs, from programmable logic to programmable systems integration. For more information, visit www.xilinx.com.

© Copyright 2013 Xilinx, Inc. Xilinx, the Xilinx logo, Artix, ISE, Kintex, Spartan, Virtex, Vivado, Zynq, and other designated brands included herein are trademarks of Xilinx in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
 

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Xilinx

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tele: 408-559-7778
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www.xilinx.com

Three-Phase Brushless DC Companion Device Enables Microchip to Offer Complete, Robust Motor System Solutions

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

MCP8024 Three-Phase Brushless DC Companion Device Provides All Power, Sensing and Protection Functions Needed to Implement a Robust, Highly Efficient Solution

Microchip Technology Inc., a leading provider of microcontroller, mixed-signal, analog and Flash-IP solutions, today announced a new three-phase BLDC motor gate driver with power module, the MCP8024.  This new device includes functions that power dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) and PIC® microcontrollers (MCUs) with capabilities to drive six N-channel MOSFETs.  Customers can implement improved performance and high robustness, providing increased efficiency and lowering system cost while reducing time to market.

Watch a short video:  http://www.microchip.com/get/HRKP

View a brief presentation:  http://www.microchip.com/get/6B5G

The MCP8024 operates across a wide voltage range of 6V to 28V and can withstand transient voltage up to 48V.  The device provides high-integration analog such as three current-sensing operational amplifiers, an over-current comparator, MOSFET drivers and a bidirectional communication interface for a complete motor system design.  The configurable driver dead-time management, driver blanking-time control, and Over-Current Limit (OCL) for external MOSFETs offer a significant increase in flexibility.  The adjustable step-down DC-to-DC converter powers a broad range of microcontrollers, with the efficiency benefits of a switch-mode power supply.  Additionally, the wide operating temperature range from -40°C to +150°C (H-temp) allows the MCP8024 to be utilized in harsh environments, such as automotive under-hood applications.     

The MCP8024 is available in thermally enhanced 40-pin QFN 5mm x 5mm and 48-pin TQFP 7mm x 7 mm packages.  The MCP8024 is well suited for a broad range of applications in the automotive market, such as HVAC blowers and pumps, and the industrial market, including fans, motion control and robotics, among others.

“The automotive and industrial markets continue to demand higher performance, higher integration, faster time to market and more flexibility, all in a cost-effective solution,” said Bryan J. Liddiard, marketing vice president of Microchip’s Analog and Interface Products pision.  “The integrated voltage regulators, current sensing amplifiers and over-current protection make the MCP8024 an ideal candidate to use with a broad range of MCUs, DSCs and FPGAs.  By combining with dsPIC DSCs and PIC microcontrollers, Microchip can help solve customers’ problems and provide complete motor solutions.”

Development Support

The MCP8024 is supported by Microchip’s MCP8024 TQFP BLDC Motor Driver Evaluation Board (Part # ADM00557, $99.00), which is expected to be available on December 20.

Pricing & Availability

The MCP8024 is available now for sampling and volume production in 40-pin QFN 5mm x 5mm and 48-pin TQFP 7mm x 7mm packages, for $2.61 each, in 10,000-unit quantities. 

For additional information, contact any Microchip sales representative or authorized worldwide distributor, or visit Microchip’s Web site at http://www.microchip.com/get/RTAS.  To purchase products mentioned in this press release, go to microchipDIRECT or contact one of Microchip’s authorized distribution partners.

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Additional Images (Click to enlarge)

High-res BLDC Motor Drive Evaluation Board Available Through Flickr or Editorial Contact (feel free to publish):

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Microchip Technology Inc.

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tele: 480.792.7200
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Freescale Introduces Robust, High-Speed CAN Transceivers for Industrial and Automotive Applications

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Devices feature ultra-low quiescent current; engineered to address stringent electromagnetic compatibility requirements without external noise filtering

To help manufacturers and systems designers more easily achieve compliance with increasingly stringent industrial and automotive safety requirements, Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) today announced a family of robust CAN transceivers designed for high-speed performance and reliability.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) are critical requirements in harsh industrial and automotive environments due to the close proximity of a wide range of networked electronic systems and devices. Freescale’s MC33901 and MC34901 chokeless CAN high-speed physical layer transceivers deliver outstanding EMC performance and high ESD robustness without the need for external components, thereby reducing overall system costs. The devices also offer fail-safe features to assist with system functional safety, as well as exceptionally low quiescent current down to 8 micro amps.

“Last month, Freescale announced a major initiative to expand our analog portfolio to address the growing industrial market, and today’s introduction of these world-class CAN devices underscores the focus and speed with which we are executing to our strategic industrial analog initiative,” said James Bates, senior vice president and general manager for Freescale’s Analog and Sensors business. “Our newest high-speed CAN devices are a perfect example of how Freescale is aggressively leveraging our automotive expertise in safety, efficiency and robustness for the fast-growing industrial space.”

The MC33901 and MC34901 products convert digital protocol information into analog CAN communication across in-vehicle networks, as well as long-length CAN node interconnect for industrial applications. The devices are ideal for a broad range of applications including safety-critical industrial motor control, factory automation and industrial robotics systems, as well as automotive body electronics, power train and infotainment systems. Both products offer outstanding performance at 2 Mbps baud rate to address CAN FD (flexible data) application requirements.

Product specifications and features

  • Robustness: Exceeds stringent EMC and ESD requirements without added choke (±6kV ESD, >36Bm DPI)
  • Low Power Mode: quiescent current down to 8 micro amps
  • Industrial-Ready: Supports long-length CAN node interconnect for industrial applications
  • Designed for EMC: Low emission design combined with high immunity for optimum EMC performance
  • Pin-for-pin compatible with industry standard
  • 5V and 3.3V I/O compatibility with auto-detect
  • Industry-specific product options:
    • Automotive: Built-in “Tx Dominant Timeout” feature (MC33901)
    • Industrial: Built-in support for long-length and low baud rate networks (MC34901)

Tweet ThisNew robust CAN transceivers for high-speed performance/reliability in industrial/auto applications announced today from @Freescale

Development support and availability

The MC33901 and MC34901 devices are planned for availability in Q2 2014. To help accelerate time-to-market and demonstrate the benefits of the multiple embedded functions of the devices, Freescale offers industrial and automotive market-specific feature sets, a small form factor evaluation board, as well as OEM certification reports from external laboratories to facilitate design selection. For more information, please visit: http://www.freescale.com/MC34901

Robust and reliable analog performance

The majority of Freescale’s analog products meet critical industrial market requirements, including operation across extended temperature ranges. These products are designed and manufactured with rigorous process controls, and qualified using industry standard methodologies designed to yield defect rates in line with the stringent requirements of the automotive market. The MC33901 and MC34901 devices, in addition to most of Freescale’s analog products for industrial, are included in Freescale’s product longevity program, which provides assurance of supply for a minimum of 10 or 15 years from the time of launch. For terms and conditions, and to see a list of participating Freescale products, visit www.freescale.com/productlongevity.

About Freescale

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) is a global leader in embedded processing solutions, providing industry leading products that are advancing the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. From microprocessors and microcontrollers to sensors, analog integrated circuits and connectivity – our technologies are the foundation for the innovations that make our world greener, safer, healthier and more connected. Some of our key applications and end-markets include automotive safety, hybrid and all-electric vehicles, next generation wireless infrastructure, smart energy management, portable medical devices, consumer appliances and smart mobile devices. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing and sales operations around the world. www.freescale.com

Freescale and the Freescale logo are trademarks of Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. All other product or service names are the property of their respective owners. © 2013 Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.

Source: Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.

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USA

toll-free: 800.521.6274
www.freescale.com

ADAS Surround View over MOST®

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

MOST150 Star Topology Enables Advanced Driver Assist Systems

The MOST® Cooperation (MOSTCO) – the standardization organization for the leading automotive multimedia network Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) – is showcasing a MOST150 based advanced driver assist system (ADAS) network that transmits HD video streams from up to eight cameras, using up to 1.2 Gbit/s total bandwidth. The surround view cameras are connected to a central node in a star topology over coaxial cable. The multi-channel network approach of MOST, with its inherent synchronicity, is perfectly adapted for ADAS since it assures hard real-time determinism and ultra-low latency at 10 milliseconds; flexible topology; high bandwidth; safety aspects; as well as robustness and maturity. The 360-degree automotive top view system uses small-footprint high dynamic range cameras. The cameras are based on a two-chip solution and, with the remote control feature, no microcontroller is required.

Multiplying Bandwidth to Several MOST150 Branches

A multiport network interface controller in the central node allocates the true, full bandwidth to every branch. The different branches can then be built with any topology, including star, ring, tree or daisy-chain, and can be hot-plugged or disconnected without influencing the flow of streaming data in the rest of the system.

Low Latency Streaming Meets Safety Requirements

Sending a video stream from the camera to the renderer means that a significant amount of data is streamed for a prolonged period of time. Especially with ADAS, the continuously flowing stream of data cannot be interrupted or delayed. MOST provides the transport of data streams with guaranteed bandwidth and latency that the multiplex architecture inherently offers. It does not require either additional communication processors and addressing information, or the bandwidth-wasting process of breaking up the data into packets that then need to be examined every time they go through a device along the route. Complying with safety protocols, MOST delivers video streams with low latency and determinism throughout the system.

Coaxial Cabling Destined for Driver Assist Systems

Using coaxial cable, MOSTCO provides a scalable electrical physical layer for the ADAS automotive domain, as it allows for bidirectional communication and power supply across the same cable. Coaxial cabling is the industry standard cable for transport of high frequency signals. It has inherent shielding and provides low-cost and standard cables and connectors. Its construction enables an automated connector assembly, allowing lower assembly costs than shielded twisted pairs of copper wires (STP). Depending on bandwidth and cable/connector quality, it offers low reflections at up to 100 meters distance. The coaxial standard already works up to several Gbit/s and thus delivers an EMC-proof and low-cost electrical physical layer.

Images
Preview: http://www.alvacon.com/en/news/most-cooperation-20131114-adas-surround-view/

Image 1: MOST150 star topology enables advanced driver assist systems
Copyright: www.mostcooperation.com
Download: http://www.alvacon.com/media/images/MOST150-ADAS-surround-view-star-coax-.jpg

Image 2: Surround view demo system based on MOST150 coaxial cabling
Copyright: www.mostcooperation.com
Download: http://www.alvacon.com/media/images/MOST150-ADAS-surround-view-star-coax-demo-.jpg

About MOST Technology
MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) is a multimedia networking technology optimized for use in cars and other applications. It enables the transport of high Quality of Service audio and video together with packet data and real-time control over a single transmission medium. MOST can use plastic optical fibers (POF), coax based electrical physical layer, and shielded and unshielded twisted pair (STP/UTP) copper wires that meet automotive environmental requirements. Today, MOST is used in over 150 car models as the communication backbone for their information and entertainment equipment.

About MOST Cooperation
The MOST Cooperation (MOSTCO) is the organization through which MOST Technology is standardized and refined so that it continues to stay abreast of the latest industry requirements. Today it consists of 16 international carmakers and more than 60 key component suppliers. They have joined together to work with the MOST Technology and to contribute to its innovation. The MOST Cooperation is prepared to embrace efforts to further develop and standardize the technology for other industries and to establish the corresponding work structures. The MOST Cooperation was founded in 1998 to standardize MOST Technology as a global standard for multimedia networking. Audi, BMW, Daimler, HARMAN and Microchip Technology are its core partners and constitute its Steering Committee. For more information see http://www.mostcooperation.com.

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For Cars, the Future is Here

Monday, November 11th, 2013

From in-vehicle infotainment systems and advanced driver-assistance systems (and the standards that support them) to the self-driving car, embedded automotive systems never looked so cool.

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Some of the most exciting advances in embedded automotive systems are happening today, with plenty more in the nascent stages. With advanced sensor and user interface technologies coming out of the consumer arena, along with new connectivity standards and safety regulations, the stage is set. Maybe not for the flying car that George Jetson rode to work—just yet—but for a wide range of capabilities that will also drive societal expectations. We have a great panel of experts here to give their insight on where embedded automotive technologies are going—and what’s still needed. Many thanks to Andy Gryc, senior automotive product marketing manager, QNX Software Systems; Dan Loop, business development manager, automotive infotainment processors Freescale; Davide Santo, ADAS microcontroller product manager, Freescale; Warren Kurisu, director of product management, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division; and Rob Valiton, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive, Aerospace and Memory Business Units, Atmel Corporation.

EECatalog: The buzz today is the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system and its ability to provide a smartphone-like experience to the driver and passengers. What technologies are still likely to find their way into the automobile’s IVI system—and what technologies will never be appropriate for the “connected car”?

Andy Gryc, QNX Software Systems: For front seat applications while the vehicle is in motion, just about the only prohibitions would be games (excepting auto-centric games like “beat your fuel mileage”), video conferencing, and news tickers. Just about everything else—apps or technology—is possible, and could be adapted to a safe in-vehicle experience with appropriate modifications to display and user interaction. Even intensely engaging graphical experiences can be provided while the vehicle is in park or for rear-seat. NFC and augmented reality have been demoed; QR code reading and fingerprint recognition have reasonable applications.

Dan Loop, Freescale: Vehicle OEMs will ultimately determine the answers to these questions based on their view on the value of the technology to the driver and its impact on driver and passenger safety. As we move toward a higher penetration of connected vehicles, the amount of technology available for integration increases dramatically and we will see new vehicle-specific functions emerge that one may never see in a smartphone. This gives a wide array of technology options for the OEM to align with their brand and each vehicle’s value proposition. Ultimately, this drives the need for flexible and scalable solutions in the IVI space. What one OEM may see as valuable another may see as not appropriate, yet similar hardware and software may be utilized in both systems. Also, as we move into an era of autonomous vehicles we are likely to see that technologies that were once viewed as not appropriate become acceptable in certain autonomous driving situations, which will only intensify the need for more flexible and scalable IVI platforms.

Warren Kurisu, Mentor Graphics: The technologies that will work their way into vehicles will reflect key characteristics of smartphones, namely: media, connectivity and application availability. Of course, media-rich systems are already commonplace. The abundance of accessible and inexpensive connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, GPS, satellite and others will become increasingly integrated in the vehicle and pull in technologies for app store access, firmware over-the-air updates and web- and cloud-based technologies. Of course, with connectivity come security concerns. Commercial hardware-based technologies such as ARM TrustZone will be required, as will software complements such as type-1 hypervisors. These technologies together can help to create secure zones within the system, and minimize attack surfaces by keeping applications within those zones secure from each other and from attacks via external connections. Broadly speaking, anything that isn’t efficient in terms of space, weight, power and cost—or creates unmitigated security, safety or driver-distraction issues—will not be appropriate for the connected car. With that qualification, given the increasing pace of technology advancement, it’s difficult to definitively exclude any specific technology from eventually making it into the car if it serves an important function.

Rob Valiton, Atmel Corporation: There are a wide variety of technologies that will continue to find their way into IVI systems. Undoubtedly, capacitive touchscreens will be one of the fastest-growing. The current dominant touchscreen technology in automotive is resistive. However, resistive technology does not allow consumers to interact with their car the way they interact with their smartphone, tablet and Ultrabook, resulting in a frustrated user. The superior user interface, including common gesture recognition utilizing pinch/zoom and swiping motions is enabled by the adoption of capacitive technology.

Some newer features such as hover and proximity may also have the potential to create a less-distracted user environment than what exists today. Hover and proximity can be used in combination to ensure that the drivers’ eyes stay on the road for as long as possible and changing basic setting does not require several menu changes.

In terms of connecting devices in the car, Bluetooth has traditionally been viewed as the ultimate solution in the automotive sector, with Wi-Fi technology being closely examined as an alternative. Automobiles today allow users to stay connected to their smartphones in a hands-free manner, meaning users can stay connected while they are in-transit from their home to the office.

It is somewhat difficult to identify specific technologies that aren’t appropriate for the “connected car,” whether now or in the future. Clearly, the connected car is only limited by one’s imagination and safety concerns.


EECatalog: What standards are needed to unify the IVI experience between onboard systems and the products the consumer connects to the car?

Gryc, QNX Software Systems: USB and Bluetooth right now provide much of what is needed for a “standard” experience. For higher-quality experiences, a transport (USB 3.0, WiFi/WiFi Direct, BTLE) and a protocol (H.264, Airplay, Miracast, MirrorLink, DLNA) are needed.

Loop, Freescale: Due to the rapid pace of innovation in consumer devices, the automotive market struggles to stay aligned with consumer device connectivity. While creating standards will certainly streamline the introduction of connectivity technologies into vehicles, the key ingredient is for the big consumer technology companies such as Apple and Google to have a more open dialog with the auto industry in order to close on standards that can be adopted at a quicker pace or even allow older vehicles to be upgraded in the field. This will ultimately provide a better in-vehicle user experience with new devices that typically have a lifespan of one to two years versus a vehicle lifetime of three to five-plus years. While we are now seeing an emergence of new smartphone integration technologies such as Apple’s iOS in the car, a deeper commitment is needed to keep the standards stable and supported in future devices to account for the disconnect between consumer technology and vehicle life spans.

Kurisu, Mentor Graphics: There are a few perspectives from which to address this question. For manufacturers who are not seeking to differentiate for high margins, a simple standard to mirror the smartphone on the IVI system is good enough. A good example is the Connected Car Consortium’s MirrorLink technology. For higher-end models, delivering a branded, differentiated solution is paramount. One such standard could be HTML5, which could allow applications to be run locally, on the smartphone or in the cloud, yet allow the OEM to deliver a branded user experience in the vehicle. Broadly speaking, GENIVI as a standard is important as it continues to consider and create projects related to consumer electronics technologies such as application frameworks, Qt graphics, HTML5 and app stores.

Valiton, Atmel: There are a number of standards to consider for unification of the IVI experience between on-board systems and connectable consumer products. Standards range from security and software considerations, to technology such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Standards identified by technology standards bodies, such as the Bluetooth SIG or Wi-Fi Alliance, are required in order to unify the IVI experience on-board, specifically in relation to consumer products. These are required to ensure a smooth and seamless connection, as well as a positive experience for the end user. Firmware specifications are identified within a car to ensure connectivity is established flawlessly. In addition, continued development of standards such as those being developed by the Connected Car Consortium will ensure that drivers can continue to control their devices using existing in-vehicle equipment.

Software considerations are also important. Since the infotainment lifecycle of an automobile is typically much longer than in the home, future cars must consider software standards along with the ability to upgrade.


EECatalog: What technologies—in the car, terrestrially and wirelessly—are needed to connect the car to roadway and municipal infrastructures, as well as to make vehicle-to-vehicle communications a reality?

Gryc, QNX Software Systems: V2V/V2I capabilities are usually envisioned through DSRC or WiMax, however, these technologies and their implementation for any V2V or V2I system will require governmental regulation to proliferate and are still likely years out. The most likely short-term form of V2V would be through an LTE carrier network—the vehicle contacts a cloud-based “big data” service to report its position (anonymously), and any other connected vehicles can get aggregate crowd-based information like traffic density, road speeds or localized weather.

Loop, Freescale: As vehicles establish themselves as another node on the ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT), multiple data pipes both fat and thin will become critical to future driver experiences. We are already seeing the emergence of 4G connectivity for data and in-vehicle hotspots, and OEMs will find new ways to monetize this fat data pipe into vehicles. V2I will rely on thin pipes similar to what is emerging in IoT sensor networks that are already being deployed by municipalities to streamline management of utility infrastructures. As V2V emerges, we will likely see similar technologies employed with specific tweaks to ensure quality of service of communication between moving vehicles. Within the vehicle, consumer technologies such as USB, HDMI and 802.11ac will dominate as they will be the most visible and valuable to the vehicle purchaser. The key question in the incorporation of all of these technologies is how intrusive they will be to the vehicle owner, as privacy concerns will rise as information is routed over networks that can ultimately move data from the car to the cloud.

Kurisu, Mentor Graphics: GPS combined with dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) standards, including 802.11p, is very promising. The allure of DSRC is that localized networks of vehicles communicating with each other and the infrastructure are inherently more efficient and real-time than a systemic, Internet-based broadcast of notifications and status. Interestingly, I don’t think the problem is so much the technology, but rather that for such a system to be truly effective, the standards would need to be compatible internationally, and all vehicles would need to connect to the network. As an example, consider a simple efficiency use case. If my car were connected to the traffic light grid and was able to exploit that connection to avoid red lights, I might not be able to take advantage of that efficiency if the car in front of me wasn’t also connected, and as a result was driving too fast or too slow. I also dream of the day where I can zoom along a highway in a caravan of connected vehicles, but that only works if all vehicles are somehow communicating with each other.

Valiton, Atmel: There are a number of technologies that are required to connect a car to the roadway and municipal infrastructure, along with vehicle-to-vehicle communications. These technologies require a microcontroller (MCU), numerous sensors, a connectivity solution which can range from Wi-Fi such as 802.11p, GPS and 3G or 4G networks and security. The combination allows cars to connect to roadway and municipal infrastructures such as Fastrak, toll payment or Onstar security systems—all of which are connected to terrestrial and/or wireless connectivity.

Security in automobiles is very important. Remember, we are all used to having virus protection readily available on our PCs, but are unlikely to think that much about how secure our software is in the modern automobile. Until now, the software has been part of a closed system and not subject to hacking. With the new V2V and V2X systems, we will need technology to ensure secure firmware updates and prevent hackers from communicating with unsuspecting drivers and their vehicles.


EECatalog: Where do you see opportunities for next-generation advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)? What technologies fill the gaps—and what’s still needed?

Gryc, QNX Software Systems: ADAS is a hot area, and will continue to grow and evolve over the next couple years. Safety features are becoming part of the European buying decision (encouraged through Euro NCAP), and will spread globally to address continued public emphasis on enabling elderly drivers with aging populations, alleviating increasingly crowded roads and enforcing safety with distracted drivers. ADAS technology will need to rely on inexpensive sensors (cameras being cost-reduced by inclusion in mobiles), merger of multiple ADAS systems into single module/single processor and massively parallel image-processing software.

Davide Santo, Freescale: Advanced driver-assisted systems are among the most interesting innovation areas for automotive today. ADAS will help increase both the comfort and the safety of our autos, while reducing the fuel consumption for a greener mobility and helping us to live better in an increasingly complex and crowded automotive environment. From simple systems that help the driver to compensate for his accidental distraction, such as warning systems, to the systems that can reduce the driver’s stress in traffic or congested areas, ADAS is progressively developing to lead us into a world of autonomous mobility within certain limitations and legal boundaries. Algorithms, microcontrollers, system integration tools, sensors are all developing under the main trend of integration and help manage this complex problem by separating it into manageable subunits.

Santo, Freescale: Many technologies are already available today:

  • Vision camera sensors, which are following in the path of consumer cameras by expanding their depth of colors and the numbers of pixels, complemented with more sophisticated image signaling processing (ISP)
  • Radar units capable of faster modulation of frequencies based on 76-81 GHz and with the possibility to add easy-to-integrate, low-level digital functions to distribute the computational load
  • Infrared technology for night vision
  • Laser-scanning sensors and the already highly fitted ultrasonic sensors for park assist.
    In addition, two sensor classes are emerging as perfectly complementary and beneficial for sensor fusion; the combination of radar and camera, which will dominate development efforts over the next three to five years.

Kurisu, Mentor Graphics: Currently there are hundreds of deployed ADAS technologies and hundreds more in advanced R&D. Among the most interesting opportunities from my view are those that leverage signal- and image-processing techniques that have been used in military and industrial applications for years. Recent advances in heterogeneous system-on-chip (SoC) architectures that combine multiple powerful application processors and FPGA fabrics, such as those found in the Xilinx Zynq processor, can create the technical foundation for such capabilities. Automotive device manufacturers can utilize the fabric for computationally intensive image pre-and post-processing, image manipulation, motion estimation and object classification, and then leverage that information as input to advanced ADAS systems. Other interesting technologies include heads-up displays, voice recognition and even gesture recognition, all of which could be used to minimize driver distraction and simplify the operation of the increasingly complex vehicle. While not a technology per se, but critically important nonetheless, safety standards such as ISO 26262 will be required for these systems as needed.

Valiton, Atmel: There are a number of applications in cars that we are currently seeing and others which we’ll see in the next five to 10 years for ADAS. These include adaptive light control, cameras, in-vehicle navigation, body electronics, access systems, lighting and entertainment applications that will help fill the gap. These applications are already changing the way we interact with our vehicles in more ways than we realize. From advanced lighting to in-vehicle entertainment, our vehicles are already on their way to becoming the connected car that drivers desire.

In order for these applications to be successful in ADAS in the next five to 10 years, there are a number of technologies that must be achieved, including distributed processing, sensors in the car and real-time processing. In addition, applications must support small designs and offer a high level of integration to fit the limited space available in automotive environments. Developers also need to meet compliant automotive qualification demands while offering a wide range of products and services.

Finally, manufacturers must work with developers to create solutions that:

  • Use standards-based connectivity for intelligent networked solutions
  • Allow compatibility and protection including robust electromagnetic compatibility (EMC); electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection
  • Offer resistance to high-temperature and low-power consumption for maximum efficiency

EECatalog: We have to close with this one: the self-driving car. Google’s initiative is one effort, though DARPA has been “challenging” teams to do this for years. Are we ready for a self-driving car? What embedded technologies and software are needed to make this a reality?

Gryc, QNX Software Systems: Technology will be ready before society is ready. Technology advances have allowed several OEMs to draw a line in the sand for production release of some phase of autonomous driving before the close of the decade. What is needed is a focus on turning $100K or more proof-of-concept vehicles into systems with consumer-acceptable price tags. Societal changes will be widespread, and will impact many aspects of modern life: liability of autonomous driving systems, human adaptation/dependence/skepticism, municipal infrastructure changes to roads and parking, shifting car-ownership/car-sharing models, occupant-less courier and taxi vehicles, changes to (or phasing out of) existing mass-transit systems, new charging/fueling infrastructures, etc. Technologies and software are needed for all of these aspects of the autonomous revolution, not just the pieces going into the car.

Santo, Freescale: The self-driving car, a chimera only ten years ago, is now within reach. The need for such mobile systems is evident and goes behind simple comfort during traffic jams. It helps enable a new model of life with more and more people spending long parts of their day in a commuting parade and increasingly needing to find time for themselves or their work. Google opened up the competition by accelerating the race toward the perfect self-driving car. Now manufacturers ranging from Audi to Daimler and other OEMs are in the game to win and convince consumers that it is possible to let a car drive us, within solid technical and legal boundaries. Much remains to be done but the first step is clear: integration of fusion with front vision (which has already started) and secondly, active 3D surround sensing and seeing. Lots of legal issues still need to be considered and resolved, but the impossible is now possible…actually probable.

Kurisu, Mentor Graphics: We’ve already discussed a few of the essential components including GPS, DSRC and ADAS technologies. Additionally, the self-driving car depends on advanced mapping, radar, laser and imaging technologies. Navigation information must include current and precise data, covering local traffic, construction and emergency vehicle activity for example. These systems also will need to be capable of computer vision leveraging very powerful signal-processing, image-mapping and decision-making algorithms. Security technologies to ensure safety will need to be designed into the vehicle and infrastructure. All that being said, the increasingly rapid innovation of microprocessors, GPUs, FPGA fabrics, hardware devices, connectivity and software makes this a realistic vision. These technical advances bring enormous computing power into the automobile, and enable consolidation of functionality into fewer, more powerful computing systems. Are we ready for the self-driving car? Not today, but I eagerly anticipate my first ride in one!

Valiton, Atmel: According to a survey conducted by ORC International, only 18 percent of consumers said they would consider buying a self-driving car.

Despite this survey, we believe consumers do not have a full understanding of self-driving cars. There are a number of technologies today that are baby steps towards a self-driving car (think automatic braking). One example is the safe park, where the vehicle parks itself. Another example is autopilot, a system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a person, developed in 1912. Autopilots are used in aircraft, boats (known as self-steering gear), spacecraft, missiles and other vehicles.

However, if you think of an aircraft with autopilot, it still requires human intervention—a pilot and a co-pilot—to ensure that if anything is amiss, they can be sure to steer the plane to safety.

With self-driving cars, drivers will have the option to set the car in drive and not worry about a long trip or traffic. Similar to cruise control, the self-driving car can be turned off or if there is an emergency, the driver can still have full control of the car.

However, with strict automotive standards currently in place, to make this idea a reality, hardware and software must work closely together to achieve a safe and reliable self-driving car and one that is not hackable. Embedded technologies such as microcontrollers, sensors and touch solutions, encryption and even technologies such as 3D scanning are already in place to enable an autonomous vehicle.

We are ready for self-driving cars; the real question is whether both manufacturers and drivers are ready to embrace it.

 


Cheryl Berglund Coupé is managing editor of EECatalog.com. Her articles have appeared in EE Times, Electronic Business, Microsoft Embedded Review and Windows Developer’s Journal and she has developed presentations for the Embedded Systems Conference and ICSPAT. She has held a variety of production, technical marketing and writing positions within technology companies and agencies in the Northwest.

Technology is Reshaping Vehicle Insurance

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Usage-based insurance (UBI) is a largely untapped market that is ripe for technology solutions to deliver tangible benefits to consumers, the insurance industry and to society.

The market for usage-based insurance (UBI) is largely untapped because the way in which automobile insurance risks were assessed stood still for many years. It was based on static, statistical data like age, gender, car model and so on. Applying telematics technology to usage-based insurance is a relatively recent development and it is delivering the means for insurers to make objective assessments of risk profiles based on real-time, dynamic data like mileage, areas travelled, time of day, keeping to speed limits, engine RPM and fuel level as well as driver behavior. This driver-specific information can also be paired with publicly available data to identify road types and weather conditions.

There are two key benefits arising from this shift: for insurers, there’s the ability to detect and retain the majority of the lowest risk drivers. For drivers, particularly young drivers, it’s a way of getting significant discounts on their premiums. In addition, these assessment mechanisms work like psychological conditioning, where good driving behavior is rewarded and, in a way, bad behavior is punished—with higher premiums or loss of coverage. And since careful drivers have fewer accidents, this becomes a big benefit for society.

Technology Revved Up and Ready
Automotive SatNav systems employ similar real-time dynamic data and when these applications became available for download and use on smartphones they exploded in popularity. Therefore, creating UBI apps for smartphones was a logical development. Smartphones have the requisite functionality, which includes sensors to detect acceleration, braking and cornering, but insurers have usability and reliability issues similar to those from texting-and-driving.

In the U.S., insurers have concerns about the use of smartphone apps and this is reflected in the fact that solutions based on in-vehicle, on-board diagnostics (OBD) dongles have become the preferred option. These devices plug into the vehicle’s OBD-II service port, similar to the one shown in Figure 1a. In the U.S., cars have been equipped with these ports since 1996. (The main reasons for their preference are covered in the following section on “Dedicated in-vehicle devices.”) Danlaw’s device, which is known as a DataLogger, is shown in Figure 1b. This designation indicates that UBI data is logged (stored) in the device before being transmitted over a cellular network to the insurer.

Nate Bryer, VP of innovation at automotive engineering firm Danlaw says: “Smartphones still lack the ability to provide clean, consistent and accurate driving data that can be used in usage-based insurance programs. As of today, the only way to generate and gather the data needed for a UBI program is an embedded or self-installed device that is tied into a vehicle’s electronic system.” However, the ability to download a UBI app and run a free trial with an insurance company is filling the awareness gap that’s allowing insurers to establish a business relationship with young drivers that can be carried forward when they marry, take out mortgages or need additional insurance policies.

Smartphone Issues
For insurers, smartphone apps are tools to collect data that they can use for risk assessment. Free UBI trials allow smartphone services to be employed as a “teaser” that: (a) introduces the concept; (b) allows drivers to see their driving behavior at the end of the trial; and (c) informs them about the potential reduction in their premium if they drive carefully.

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Figure 1a (left): Typical OBD-II Port is easily accessible under the car dashboard. Figure 1b (right): Danlaw’s DataLogger 7-Series is a small, self-installed, OBD connected telematics solution.

Seen in this context, smartphones are providing a valuable service, but their use in the UBI space is problematic for various reasons. For example, the device may not always be on every time the car is driven or the app may not be compatible and certified for use with the phone’s operating system or platforms, both of which vary dramatically across the consumer industry. There are vocal advocates for smartphone UBI, but the insurance industry and regulators are key players and particularly concerned about operational reliability and fraud. In addition, offering a UBI policy that requires ownership of a smartphone is unlikely to pass the “fairness” test, as many drivers do not own one of these pricey devices.

As well, regulators are highly critical of the reliability of data delivery. Phones can be removed accidentally or run out of battery power. Users would need to start the UBI app manually and phones could be dropped or become airborne during an impact. Telematics behavioral data such as braking, turning and accelerating is likely to be inaccurate and unreliable because phones are rarely perfectly oriented—data must originate from sensors oriented with the vehicle’s travel plane. There are a number of other issues, too, with the most significant being liability exposure.

In almost all international jurisdictions, courts will find companies liable for negligence and damages when there is a “better” solution than the smartphone (e.g., employing a data logger) that the company should have considered. This reliability concern is more critical in life-saving applications such as an emergency response request in case of a crash, but any automotive application is held liable for delivering what it promises, even if the promise is lower insurance rates. Moreover, the smartphone UBI scenario could adversely impact on the validity of fair and honest claims. Only an embedded device can guarantee accurate X=Y orientation of high g-force data, which is needed to justify insurance claims for whiplash.

When designing a smartphone policy, insurers will need to look at three unknowns. The first is the service itself and the reason why the driver will want to use the app. The second unknown concerns the drivers, since it will never be possible to control how and if they use the app. The third is the device itself, since each smartphone is equipped with different sensor grades and quality. There is nothing to legislate the driver’s use of the app. The UBI app will gather second-by-second information and build a picture of the driver’s behavior, but it will not match what a data logger can do. The insurer has to accept that risk and include it in the model from the start.

Dedicated In-Vehicle Devices
In the U.S., insurers’ concerns about smartphones are reflected in the fact that solutions based on in-vehicle OBD-II data loggers have become the preferred option. These robust devices are unobtrusive and because they have a semi-permanent wired interface to the vehicle’s electronic system, they provide accurate driving data. They are relatively cheap, there is no installation cost, nor is there any need to schedule an installation appointment. They can also be used in tandem with a smartphone. This hybrid solution would combine the data quality of the installed device with customer-friendly features like on-screen displays, which could include warning flags about bad driving and the possible financial impact.

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Dedicated in-vehicle devices that employ high-frequency sampling provide accurate observations of a driver’s behaviour. They can identify bad behaviour such as tailgating (Figure 2a) – see how brown line shows excessive speed changes; and detect details like gear changes (Figure 2b bottom). This type of detailed information is particularly useful when accidents need to be reconstructed. Purple shows data from GPS data at 1 sample per second and Brown is high-frequency sampling of speed sensor data – Graphics courtesy Redtail Telematics.

UBI solutions based on OBD-II in-vehicle devices address the concerns of the insurance industry and regulators. For example:

Fairness. Regardless of vehicle type, demographics or socio-economic status, all insured drivers are measured the same way.

Reliability. A dedicated hardware solution ensures that the connectivity between the vehicle and provider is controllable and timely. And an embedded in-car system can distinguish a real crash and emergency from the bumps of normal driving (potholes, climbing curbs, speed bumps and road transitions).

Security. Dedicated hardware eliminates the potential for fraud, as it is typically a proprietary system that relies on a direct connection to the insured’s vehicle.

No-distraction driving. Governments around the world are grappling with the potentially disastrous consequences of cell-phone-induced distraction while driving. In 2010, this type of distraction was directly linked to over 3,000 fatal car accidents in the U.S. Insurers cringe at the thought of being dragged into court if law enforcement finds that drivers are causing accidents while interacting with their UBI smartphone apps.

Storing and Analyzing the Data
UBI can quickly accumulate massive amounts of data at the petabyte level and beyond. If a vehicle were driven 1,000 miles a month, it would typically generate over 190K data points a year. Insuring 1,000 drivers, which is a modest figure, would take this figure to over 190 million data points. You can do the math. However, data loggers can employ processing power-enabling smart filtering of the raw data. Only the relevant data is transmitted over-the-air and sorting can also be employed to ensure that the data plan stays low. Data loggers employing Telit modules already have this capability.

Nevertheless, a lot of UBI “Big Data” is going to be generated in the coming years and insurers need a way of scoring driving behavior and then applying scores to rating algorithms to reward drivers who drive safely. This is not a trivial task but it is one that the larger insurers can accommodate; others will typically partner with companies specialized in data management and predictive modelling.

Storing and analyzing Big Data is a generic issue for other M2M sectors and other industries and we are witnessing a rise in the number of innovative, cloud-based solutions. They include visual analytics, which would allow driving behavior of all insured drivers to be presented in an easy-to-understand, graphical interface.

Conclusions
It is clear that smartphone popularity and penetration will continue to rise in in the coming years with a mind-boggling number of apps that can be downloaded. However, the use of UBI smartphone apps is problematic. The regulatory climate is unfavorable and the legal risks are significant. Dedicated solutions based on proprietary, dedicated hardware that are embedded or connected to the vehicle’s OBD-II diagnostic port provide robust results that can accommodate the demanding requirements of the insurance industry and the regulators. As illustrated in figure 2a and 2b, they provide very accurate driving data and the processing power of a dedicated hardware solution enables smart filtering of raw data. Also, they are as easy to install by the insured driver as downloading a UBI app into the smartphone.


zeller_cyril

Cyril Zeller is senior sales director, Global Telematics Segment at Telit Wireless Solutions. He is responsible for developing and executing Telit’s corporate strategy for the worldwide telematics industry, especially in the area of fleet management, stolen vehicle recovery and usage-based insurance. Prior to joining Telit, Zeller served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Mobile Devices Ingénierie, a European-based leader in open-platform telematics technology. Zeller is an expert in the financial and legal issues in telematics.

eSOL Seeks ISO 26262 Automotive Safety Standard Certification for Real-Time OS, IDE

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Certification of RTOS and IDE Will Support Car Manufacturers and Automotive Device Suppliers

eSOL, a leading developer of real-time embedded software solutions, today announced that eSOL is seeking ISO 26262 automotive functional safety standard certification for its eT-Kernel real-time OS (RTOS) and its eBinder IDE.

eSOL expects to offer its eT-Kernel Platform Automotive Safety Package to users of the eT-Kernel Platform in the second quarter of 2014—as soon as the third-party certifier determines that eSOL’s RTOS and IDE meet Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) B requirements. The eT-Kernel Platform, which contains the eT-Kernel and eBinder IDE, serves as the basis for the eT-Kernel Platform Automotive Safety Package. eSOL’s eT-Kernel Platform Automotive Safety Package consists of documents including safety manuals and reports that will substantially reduce costs for car manufacturers and automotive device suppliers obtaining ISO 26262 certification for products such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

eT-Kernel RTOS features high reliability and fast real-time capability. Thanks to its scalable architecture, the multi-profiled eT-Kernel is compliant with POSIX, uITRON, and T-Kernel. Its tightly integrated eBinder IDE, designed specifically for developing RTOS-based software, ensures efficient development with high-quality results. The eT-Kernel Platform, already used in many in-vehicle automotive infotainment systems, will allow developers to meet ISO 26262 auto safety requirements for their automotive systems while securing proven reliability and real-time capability.

As a member of Automotive Open System Architecture (AUTOSAR) and Japan Automotive Software Platform and Architecture (JASPAR), eSOL contributes to standardization in the area of in-vehicle system technology and offers the latest advances in technology in its products and services. eSOL has actively worked within the JASPAR functional safety working group to develop guideline descriptions and templates for ISO 26262 safety conformance.

In addition to its eT-Kernel Platform, eSOL provides ISO 26262 conformance assistance based on its depth of both knowledge and engineering resources to meet the many needs of car manufacturers and automotive device suppliers. eSOL offers support in the form of customization services as well as consulting services that include process improvement and architecture analysis. To further help its clients and partners meet their needs, eSOL offers the fRSTL IEC61508- and ISO 26262-compliant software library from Yogitech— one of the pioneers in the functional safety arena—in addition to eSOL’s own ECUSAR AUTOSAR tools for automotive systems development.

eSOL received ISO9001 international quality management system certification in August 2006 and has continuously improved the quality of its software products and services. As part of its commitment to ensuring high quality in automotive, factory automation, industrial, and medical devices, eSOL has since developed and abides by its own supplemental and original advanced quality management systems and standards.

“Adherence to functional safety standards such as ISO 26262 in automotive systems development is becoming a requirement in the market,” said Hiroaki Kamikura, General Manager of the Embedded Products Division, eSOL. “eSOL wants to support automotive software developers in achieving ISO 26262 functional safety certification at a lower cost and in less time by providing its eT-Kernel Platform Automotive Safety Package along with a wide range of professional services.”

About eSOL

eSOL is a leading embedded software developer that enables customers to accelerate development of applications based on high-end single-core, multi-core, and many-core embedded processors. eSOL’s advanced, scalable, multi-profiled real-time operating systems are tightly integrated with development tools and middleware components to create flexible development platforms used by OEMs and ODMs worldwide in competitive vertical markets such as automotive, consumer electronics, industrial and medical equipment, and aerospace. Founded in 1975, eSOL is based in Tokyo, Japan.

For more information, please visit http://www.esol.com/

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eSOL Co., Ltd.

1-32-2 Honcho
Harmony Tower
Nakano-ku, Tokyo, 164-8721
Japan

tele: +81 3.5302.1360
fax: +81 3.5302.1361
ep-info@esol.co.jp
www.esol.co.jp

China’s Advanced Driver Assist Systems Market To Triple In Six Years

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The market for automotive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in China will expand by a factor of three from 2013 to 2019 as the country’s motorists grow more safety conscious.

Total market revenue for ADAS in China is forecast to grow to $3.1 billion in 2019, up from $1.0 billion in 2013, according to a new report by IHS Automotive, driven by Polk, entitled "The Chinese Market for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and Camera Modules – 2013 Edition." The attached figure presents the IHS forecast of ADAS revenue in China.
IR-excel-image

ADAS consists of a broad range of safety and convenience technologies, including blind-spot detection (BSD), parking assist, adaptive cruise control, stability control and night vision.

The fitment rate for most ADAS products at present is very low in China, with most ADAS systems installed only in luxury and some high-end light vehicles due to high costs. But because of the growing awareness of driving safety among both consumers and vehicle manufacturers, the installation of ADAS products is expected to increase rapidly in the country. ADAS systems attaining the most success will be those particularly applicable to China, such as BSD and self-parking.

“BSD is a quite useful and practical ADAS system for Chinese road and driving conditions,” said Michael Liu, senior ADAS analyst with IHS Automotive. “Motorists are realizing that BSD is useful in China because most cities are overwhelmed with the amount of vehicles on the roads. Furthermore, lots of Chinese drivers are used to changing lanes frequently. Thus, it is quite dangerous for inexperienced drivers because they may not be aware of other cars in the blind spot before they change lanes, which may cause collisions. BSD can greatly reduce this risk by warning the driver when there are vehicles in the blind spot of the side-view mirrors.”

BSD systems use radar/camera /ultrasonic sensors mounted at the side of the cabin to monitor the detection zone for relevant objects.

Although the fitment rate of BSD now is only about 1 percent in China, IHS forecasts it will increase quickly to 9 percent in 2019, which means that 2.2 million passenger-light vehicles sold during that year will be equipped with BSD.

Self-parking is another suitable ADAS system for Chinese drivers.

With the ever-increasing number of vehicles in China during the past decade, parking spaces are becoming tighter in cities, making parking a more difficult task than before. When self-parking systems aid the driver by measuring parking spaces and taking over steering, parking just becomes that much easier. As a result, the fitment rate of self-parking systems is forecast to increase to 8 percent in 2019, up from just 1 percent in 2012.

Still, not every ADAS technology is forecasted to experience strong growth in the near future in China. The development of some systems like driver monitoring, high-beam control, night vision, multi-view systems and intelligent speed adaptation is projected to be restrained during the forecast period.

Reasons include high product costs, driving behaviors specific to China, and low consumer awareness.

ABOUT IHS

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs approximately 8,000 people in 31 countries around the world.

IHS is a registered trademark of IHS Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright © 2013 IHS Inc. All rights reserved.

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