Tag Archives: automotive applications

Are you designing for the latest automotive embedded system?


Eventually, self-driving cars will arrive. But until then, here’s a look at what will drive that progression.


The next arrow of development is set for automotive

We all have seen it. We all have read about it in your front-center technology news outlets. The next forefront for technology will take place in the vehicle. The growing market fitted with the feature deviation trend does not appeal to the vision of customizing more traditional un-connected, oiled and commonly leveraged chassis vehicles of today. Instead, ubiquity in smartphones have curved a design trend, now mature while making way for the connected car platform. The awaiting junction is here for more integration of the automotive software stack.  Opportunities for the connected car market are huge, but multiple challenges still exist. Life-cycles in the development of automotive and the mobile industry are a serious barrier for the future of connected cars. Simply, vehicles take much longer to develop than smartphones other portable gadgetry. More integration from vendors and suppliers are involved with the expertise to seamlessly fit the intended blueprint of the design. In fact, new features such as the operating system are becoming more prevalent, while the demand for sophisticated and centrally operated embedded systems are taking the height of the evolution. This means more dependence on integration of data from various channels, actuators, and sensors — the faculty to operate all the new uses cases such as automatic emergency response systems are functionality requiring more SoC embedded system requirements.

A step toward the connected car - ecall and how it works

What is happening now?

People. Process. Governance. Adoption. Let’s look at the similarities stemmed from change. We are going to witness new safety laws and revised regulations coming through the industry. These new laws will dictate the demand for connectivity. Indeed, drawing importance this 2015 year with the requirement set by 2018, European Parliament voted in favor of eCall regulation. Cars in Europe must be equipped with eCall, a system that automatically contacts emergency services directing them to the vehicle location in the event of an emergency. The automotive and mobile industries have different regional and market objectives. Together, all the participants in both market segments will need to find ways to collaborate in order to satisfy consumer connectivity needs. Case in point, Chrysler has partnered with Nextel to successfully connect cars like their Dodge Viper, while General Motors uses AT&T as its mobile development partner.

General Motors selected AT&T as its mobile partner

What is resonating from the sales floor and customer perspective?

The demand is increasing for more sophistication and integration of software in the cabin of cars. This is happening from the manufacturer to the supplier network then to the integration partners — all are becoming more engaged to achieve the single outcome, pacing toward the movement to the connected car. Stretched as far as the actual retail outlets, auto dealers are shifting their practice to be more tech savvy, too. The advent of the smart  vehicle has already dramatically changed the dealership model, while more transformation awaits the consumer.

On the sales floor as well as the on-boarding experience, sales reps must plan to spend an hour or more teaching customers how to use their car’s advanced technology. But still, these are only a few mentioned scenarios where things have changed in relation to cars and how they are sold and even to the point of how they are distributed, owned, and serviced. One thing for certain, though, is that the design and user trend are intersecting to help shape the demand and experience a driver wants in the connected car. This is further bolstered by the fast paced evolution of smartphones and the marketing experiences now brought forth by the rapid adoption and prolific expansion of the mobile industry tethered by their very seamless and highly evolved experiences drawn from their preferred apps.

Today, customer experiences are becoming more tailored while users, albeit on the screen or engaged with their mobile devices are getting highly acquainted with the expectation of “picking up from where I left off” regardless of what channel, medium, device, or platform.  Seamless experiences are breaking through the market.  We witness Uber, where users initialize their click on their smartphone then follows by telemetry promoted from Uber drivers and back to the users smart phone.  In fact, this happens vis versa, Uber driver’s have information on their console showing customer location and order of priority.  Real life interactions are being further enhanced by real-time data, connecting one device to draw forth another platform to continue the journey.  Transportation is one of the areas where we can see real-time solutions changing our day-to-day engagement.  Some of these are being brought forth by Atmel’s IoT cloud partners such as PubNub where they leverage their stack in devices to offer dispatch, vehicle state, and geo fencing for many vehicle platforms.  Companies like Lixar, LoadSmart, GetTaxi, Sidecar, Uber, Lyft are using real-time technologies as integral workings to their integrated vehicle platforms.

The design trajectory for connected cars continues to follow this arrow forward

Cars are becoming more of a software platform where value chain add-ons tied to an ecosystem are enabled within the software tethered by the cloud where data will continue to enhance the experience. The design trajectory for connected cars follow this software integration arrow.  Today, the demand emphasizes mobility along with required connectivity to customer services and advanced functions like power management for electric vehicles, where firmware/software updates further produce refined outcomes in the driver experience (range of car, battery management, other driver assisted functionalities).

Carmakers and mobile operators are debating the best way to connect the car to the web. Built-in options could provide stronger connections, but some consumers prefer tethering their existing smartphone to the car via Bluetooth or USB cable so they can have full access to their personal contacts and playlists. Connected car services will eventually make its way to the broader car market where embedded connections and embedded systems supporting these connections will begin to leverage various needs to integrate traditional desperate signals into a more centrally managed console.

Proliferation of the stack

The arrow of design for connected cars will demand more development, bolstering the concept that software and embedded systems factored with newly-introduced actuators and sensors will become more prevalent. We’re talking about “software on wheels,” “SoC on wheels,” and “secured mobility.”

Design wise, the cost-effective trend will still remain with performance embedded systems. Many new cars may have extremely broad range of sensor and actuator‑based IoT designs which can be implemented on a single compact certified wireless module.

The arrow for connected cars will demand more development bolstering the concept that software and embedded systems factored with newly introduced actuators & sensors will become more prevalent; “software on wheels”, “SoC on wheels” and “secured mobility”.

Similarly, having fastest startup times by performing the task with a high-performance MCU vs MPU, is economic for a designer. It can not only reduce significant bill of materials cost, development resources, sculpted form factor, custom wireless design capabilities, but also minimize the board footprint. Aside from that, ARM has various IoT device development options, offering partner ecosystems with modules that have open standards. This ensures ease of IoT or connected car connectivity by having type approval certification through restrictive access to the communications stacks.

Drivers will be prompted with new end user applications — demand more deterministic code and processing with chips that support the secure memory capacity to build and house the software stack in these connected car applications.

Feature upon feature, layer upon layer of software combined with characteristics drawn from the events committed by drivers, tires, wheels, steering, location, telemetry, etc. Adapted speed and braking technologies are emerging now into various connected car makes, taking the traditional ABS concept to even higher levels combined with intelligence, along with controlled steering and better GPS systems, which will soon enable interim or cruise hands-free driving and parking.

Connected Car Evolution

Longer term, the technological advances behind the connected car will eventually lead to self-driving vehicles, but that very disruptive concept is still far out.

Where lies innovation and change is disruption

Like every eventual market disruption, there will be the in-between development of this connected car evolution. Innovative apps are everywhere, especially the paradigm where consumers have adopted to the seamless transitional experiences offered by apps and smartphones. Our need for ubiquitous connectivity and mobility, no matter where we are physically, is changing our vehicles into mobile platforms that want us users to seamlessly be connected to the world. This said demand for connectivity increases with the cost and devices involved will become more available. Cars as well as other mobility platforms are increasingly becoming connected packages with intelligent embedded systems. Cars are offering more than just entertainment — beyond providing richer multimedia features and in-car Internet access.  Further integration of secure and trusted vital data and connectivity points (hardware security/processing, crypto memory, and crypto authentication) can enable innovative navigation, safety and predictive maintenance capabilities.

Carmakers are worried about recent hacks,  especially with issues of security and reliability, making it unlikely that they will be open to every kind of app.  They’ll want to maintain some manufactured control framework and secure intrusion thwarting with developers, while also limiting the number of apps available in the car managing what goes or conflicts with the experience and safety measures.  Importantly, we are taking notice even now. Disruption comes fast, and Apple and others have been mentioned to enter this connected car market. This is the new frontier for technological equity scaling and technology brand appeal. Much like what we seen in the earlier models of Blackberry to smartphones, those late in the developmental evolution of their platforms may be forced adrift or implode by the market.

No one is arguing it will happen. Eventually, self-driving cars will arrive.  But for now, it remains a futuristic concept.

What can we do now in the invention, design and development process?

The broader output of manufactured cars will need to continue in leveraging new designs that take in more integration of traditional siloed integration vendors so that the emergence of more unified and centrally managed embedded controls can make its way. Hence, the importance now exists in the DNA of a holistically designed platform fitted with portfolio of processors and security to take on new service models and applications.

This year, we have compiled an interesting mixture of technical articles to support the development and engineering of car access systems, CAN and LIN networks, Ethernet in the car, capacitive interfaces and capacitive proximity measurement.

In parallel to the support of helping map toward the progress and evolution of the connected car, a new era of design exists. One in which the  platform demands embedded controls to evenly match their design characteristics and application use cases. We want to also highlight the highest performing ARM Cortex-M7 based MCU in the market, combining exceptional memory and connectivity options for leading design flexibility. The Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7 family is ideal for automotive, IoT and industrial connectivity markets. These SAM V/E/S family of microcontrollers are the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M microcontrollers enhancing performance, while keeping cost and power consumption in check.

So are you designing for the latest automotive, IoT, or industrial product? Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Optimized for real-time deterministic code execution and low latency peripheral data access
  • Six-stage dual-issue pipeline delivering 1500 CoreMarks at 300MHz
  • Automotive-qualified ARM Cortex-M7 MCUs with Audio Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet and Media LB peripheral support (only device in the market today)
  • M7 provides 32-bit floating point DSP capability as well as faster execution times with greater clock speed, floating point and twice the DSP power of the M4

We are taking the connected car design to the next performance level — having high-speed connectivity, high-density on-chip memory, and a solid ecosystem of design engineering tools. Recently, Atmel’s Timothy Grai added a unveiling point to the DSP story in Cortex-M7 processor fabric. True DSPs don’t do control and logical functions well; they generally lack the breadth of peripherals available on MCUs. “The attraction of the M7 is that it does both — DSP functions and control functions — hence it can be classified as a digital signal controller (DSC).” Grai quoted the example of Atmel’s SAM V70 and SAM V71 microcontrollers are used to connect end-nodes like infotainment audio amplifiers to the emerging Ethernet AVB network. In an audio amplifier, you receive a specific audio format that has to be converted, filtered, and modulated to match the requirement for each specific speaker in the car. Ethernet and DSP capabilities are required at the same time.

“The the audio amplifier in infotainment applications is a good example of DSC; a mix of MCU capabilities and peripherals plus DSP capability for audio processing. Most of the time, the main processor does not integrate Ethernet AVB, as the infotainment connectivity is based on Ethernet standard,” Grai said. “Large SoCs, which usually don’t have Ethernet interface, have slow start-up time and high power requirements. Atmel’s SAM V7x MCUs allow fast network start-up and facilitate power moding.”

Atmel has innovative memory technology in its DNA — critical to help fuel connected car and IoT product designers. It allows them to run the multiple communication stacks for applications using the same MCU without adding external memory. Avoiding external memories reduces the PCB footprint, lowers the BOM cost and eliminates the complexity of high-speed PCB design when pushing the performance to a maximum.

Importantly, the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7 family achieves a 1500 CoreMark Score, delivering superior connectivity options and unique memory architecture that can accommodate the said evolve of the eventual “SoC on wheels” design path for the connected car.

How to get started

  1. Download this white paper detailing how to run more complex algorithms at higher speeds.
  2. Check out the Atmel Automotive Compilation.
  3. Attend hands-on training onboard the Atmel Tech on Tour trailer. Following these sessions, you will walk away with the Atmel | SMART SAM V71 Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit.
  4. Design the newest wave of embedded systems using SAM E70, SAM S70, or SAM V70 (ideal for automotive, IoT, smart gateways, industrial automation and drone applications, while the auto-grade SAM V70 and SAM V71 are ideal for telematics, audio amplifiers and advanced media connectivity).

IMG_3659

[Images: European Commission, GSMA]

3 design hooks of Atmel MCUs for connected cars


The MPU and MCU worlds are constantly converging and colliding, and the difference between them is not a mere on-off switch — it’s more of a sliding bar. 


In February 2015, BMW reported that it patched the security flaw which could allow hackers to remotely unlock the doors of more than 2 million BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles. Earlier, researchers at ADAC, a German motorist association, had demonstrated how they could intercept communications with BMW’s ConnectedDrive telematics service and unlock the doors.

security-needs-for-connected-car-by-atmel

BMW uses SIM card installed in the car to connect to a smartphone app over the Internet. Here, the ADAC researchers created a fake mobile network and tricked nearby cars into taking commands by reverse engineering the BMW’s telematics software.

The BMW hacking episode was a rude awakening for the connected car movement. The fact that prominent features like advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are all about safety and security is also a testament is that secure connectivity will be a prime consideration for the Internet of Cars.

Built-in Security

Atmel is confident that it can establish secure connections for the vehicles by merging its security expertise with performance and low-power gains of ARM Cortex-M7 microcontrollers. The San Jose, California-based chip supplier claims to have launched the industry’s first auto-qualified M7-based MCUs with Ethernet AVB and media LB peripherals. In addition, this high-end MCU series for in-vehicle infotainment offers the CAN 2.0 and CAN flexible data rate controller for higher bandwidth requirements.

Nicolas Schieli, Automotive MCU Marketing Director at Atmel, acknowledges that security is something new in the automotive environment that needs to be tackled as cars become more connected. “Anything can connect to the controller area network (CAN) data links.”

Schieli notes that the Cotex-M7 has embedded enhanced security features within its architecture and scalability. On top of that, Atmel is using its years of expertise in Trusted Platform Modules and crypto memories to securely connect cars to the Internet, not to mention the on-chip SHA and AES crypto engines in SAM E70/V70/V71 microcontrollers for encryption of data streams. “These built-in security features accelerate authentication of both firmware and applications.”

Crypto

Schieli notes that the Cotex-M7 has embedded enhanced security features within its architecture and scalability. On top of that, Atmel is using its years of expertise in Trusted Platform Modules and crypto memories to securely connect cars to the Internet, not to mention the on-chip SHA and AES crypto engines in SAM E70/V70/V71 microcontrollers for encryption of data streams. “These built-in security features accelerate authentication of both firmware and applications.”

He explained how the access to the Flash, SRAM, core registers and internal peripherals is blocked to enable security. It’s done either through the SW-DP/JTAG-DP interface or the Fast Flash Programming Interface. The automotive-qualified SAM V70 and V71 microcontrollers support Ethernet AVB and Media LB standards, and they are targeted for in-vehicle infotainment connectivity, audio amplifiers, telematics and head control units companion devices.

Software Support

The second major advantage that Atmel boasts in the connected car environment is software expertise and an ecosystem to support infotainment applications. For instance, a complete automotive Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (AVB) stack is being ported to the SAM V71 microcontrollers.

Software support is a key leverage in highly fragmented markets like automotive electronics. Atmel’s software package encompasses peripheral drivers, open-source middleware and real-time operating system (RTOS) features. The middleware features include USB class drivers, Ethernet stacks, storage file systems and JPEG encoder and decoder.

Next, the company offers support for several RTOS platforms like RTX, embOS, Thread-X, FreeRTOS and NuttX. Atmel also facilitates the software porting of any proprietary or commercial RTOS and middleware. Moreover, the MCU supplier from San Jose features support for specific automotive software such as AUTOSAR and Ethernet AVB stacks.

Atmel supports IDEs such as IAR or ARM MDK and Atmel Studio and it provides a full-featured board that covers all MCU series, including E70, V70 and V71 devices. And, a single board can cover all Atmel microcontrollers. Moreover, the MCU supplier provides Board Support Package for Xplained evaluation kit and easy porting to customer boards through board definition file (board.h).

Beyond that, Atmel is packing more functionality and software features into its M7 microcontrollers. Take SAM V71 devices, for example, which have three software-selectable low-power modes: sleep, wait and backup. In sleep mode, the processor is stopped while all other functions can be kept running. While in wait mode, all clocks and functions are stopped but some peripherals can be configured to wake up the system based on predefined conditions. In backup mode, RTT, RTC and wake-up logic are running. Furthermore, the microcontroller can meet the most stringent key-off requirements while retaining 1Kbyte of SRAM and wake-up on CAN.

Transition from MPU to MCU

Cortex-M7 is pushing the microcontroller performance in the realm of microprocessors. MPUs, which boast memory management unit and can run operating systems like Linux, eventually lead to higher memory costs. “Automakers and systems integrators are increasingly challenged in getting performance point breakthrough because they are running out of Flash capacity,” explained Schieli.

On the other hand, automotive OEMs are trying to squeeze costs in order to bring the connected car riches to non-luxury vehicles, and here M7 microcontrollers can help bring down costs and improve the simplification of car connectivity.

The M7 microcontrollers enable automotive embedded systems without the requirement of a Linux head and can target applications with high performance while running RTOS or bare metal implementation. In other words, M7 opens up avenues for automotive OEMs if they want to make a transition from MPU to MCU for cost benefits.

However, the MPU and MCU worlds are constantly converging and colliding, and the difference between them is not a mere on-off switch. It’s more of a sliding bar. Atmel, having worked on both sides of the fence, can help hardware developers to manage that sliding bar well. “Atmel is using M7 architecture to help bridge the gap between microprocessors and high-end MCUs,” Schieli concludes.


Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

Simply the highest performing Cortex-M MCU


Why develop a new MCU instead of using a high-performance MPU? Eric Esteve says “simplicity.”


By Eric Esteve

If you target high growth markets like wearable (sport watches, fitness bands, medical), industrial (mPOS, telematics, etc.) or smart appliances, you expect using a power efficient MCU delivering high DMIPs count. We are talking about systems requiring a low bill of material (BoM) both in terms of cost and devices count. Using a MCU (microController) and not a MPU (microProcessor) allows for the minimizing of power consumption as such device like the SAM S70 runs at the 300 MHz range, not the GigaHertz, while delivering 1500 CoreMark. In fact, it’s the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M MCUs, but the device is still a microcontroller, offering multiple interface peripherals and the related control capabilities, like 10/100 Ethernet MAC, HS USB port (including PHY), up to 8 UARTs, two SPI, three I2C, SDIOs and even interfaces with Atmel Wi-Fi and ZigBee companion IC.

Atmel has a wide MCU offering from the lower end 8-bit MCU to the higher end Cortex-A5 MPU.

The Cortex-M7 family fits within the SAM4 Cortex-M4 and the SAM9 ARM9 products.
The Cortex-M7 family offers high performance up to 645 Dhrystone MIPS but as there is no Memory Management Unit, we can not run Operating System such as Linux. This family targets applications with high performance requirements and running RTOS or bare metal solution.

This brand new SAM S/E/V 70 32-bit MCU is just filling the gap between the 32-bit MPU families based on Cortex-A5 ARM processor core delivering up to 850 DMIPS and the other 32-bit MCU based on ARM Cortex-M. Why develop a new MCU instead of using one of this high performance MPU? Simplicity is the first reason, as the MCU does not require using an operating system (OS) like Linux or else. Using a simple RTOS or even a scheduler will be enough. A powerful MCU will help to match increasing application requirements, like:

  • Network Layers processing (gateway IoT)
  • Higher Data Transfer Rates
  • Better Audio and Image Processing to support standard evolution
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Last but not least: Security with AES-256, Integrity Check Monitor (SHA), TRNG and Memory Scrambling

Building MCU architecture probably requires more human intelligence to fulfill all these needs in a smaller and cheaper piece of silicon than for a MPU! Just look at the SAM S70 block diagram below, for instance.

SAM S70 Block diagram

SAM S70 Block diagram

The memory configuration is a good example. Close to the CPU, implementing 16k Bytes Instruction and 16k Bytes Data caches is a well-known practice. On top of the cache, the MCU can access Tightly Coupled Memories (TCM) through a controller running at MPU speed, or 300 MHz. These TCM are part of (up to) 384 Kbytes of SRAM, implemented by 16 Kbytes blocks and this SRAM can also be accessed through a 150 MHz bus matrix by most of the peripheral functions, either directly through a DMA (HS USB or Camera interface), either through a peripheral bridge. The best MCU architecture should provide the maximum flexibility: a MCU is not an ASSP but a general purpose device, targeting a wide range of applications. The customer benefits from flexibility when partitioning the SRAM into System RAM, Instruction TCM and Data TCM.

SRAM Partition Atmel Cortex M7
As you can see, the raw CPU performance efficiency can be increased by smart memory architecture. However, in terms of embedded Flash memory, we come back to a basic rule: the most eFlash is available on-chip, the easier and the safer will be the programming. The SAM S70 (or E70) family offers 512 Kbytes, 1 MB or 2 MB of eFlash… and this is a strong differentiator with the direct competitor offering only up to 1 MB of eFlash. Nothing magical here as the SAM S70 is processed on 65nm when the competition is lagging on 90nm. Targeting a most advanced node is not only good for embedding more Flash, it’s also good for CPU performance (300 MHz delivering 1500 DMIPS, obviously better than 200 MHz) — and it’s finally very positive in power consumption.

Indeed, Atmel has built a four mode strategy to minimize overall power consumption:

  • Backup mode (VDDIO only) with low power regulators for SRAM retention
  • Wait mode: all clocks and functions are stopped except some peripherals can be configured to wake up the system and Flash can be put in deep power down mode
  • Sleep mode: the processor is stopped while all other functions can be kept running
  • Active mode
Atmel's SMART | ARM Cortex M7 SAM S Series Target Applications

Target Applications depicted above for Atmel’s SMART | ARM based Cortex M7 SAM S Series. The SAM S series are general-purpose Flash MCUs based on the high-performance 32-bit ARM based Cortex-M7 RISC processors with floating point unit (FPU).

If you think about IoT, the SAM S70 is suited to support gateway applications, among many other potential uses, ranging from wearable (medical or sport), industrial or automotive (in this case it will be the SAM V70 MCU, offering EMAC and dual CAN capability on top of S70).


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of SemiWiki.com. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on February 22, 2015.

5 IoT challenges for connected car dev

Growth in adoption of connected cars has exploded as of late, and is showing no signs of slowing down, especially the vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-retail segments. As adoption grows exponentially, the challenges in how we develop these apps emerge as well.

One of the biggest challenges to consider will be connectivity, and how we connect and network the millions of connected cars on the road. How can we ensure that data gets from Point A to Point B reliably? How can we ensure that data transfer is secure? And how do we deal with power, battery, and bandwidth constraints?

connected car

1. Signaling

At the core of a connected car solution is bidirectional data streaming between connected cars, servers, and client applications. Connected car revolves around keeping low-powered, low-cost sockets open to send and receive data. This data can include navigation, traffic, tracking, vehicle health and state (Presence); pretty much anything you want to do with connected car.

Signaling is easy in the lab, but challenging in the wild. There are an infinite amount of speed bumps (pun intended) for connected cars, from tunnels to bad network connectivity, so reliable connectivity is paramount. Data needs to be cached, replicated, and most importantly sent in realtime between connected cars, servers, and clients.

2. Security

Then there’s security, and we all know the importance of that when it comes to connected car (and the Internet of Things in general). Data encryption (AES and SSL), authentication, and data channel access control are the major IoT data security components.

NHTSA-Connected-Cars

In looking at data channel access control, having fine-grain publish and subscribe permissions down to individual channel or user is a powerful tool for IoT security. It enables developers to create, restrict, and close open channels between client apps, connected car, and servers. With connected car, IoT developers can build point-to-point applications, where data streams bidirectionally between devices. Having the ability to grant and revoke access to user connection is just another security layer on top of AES and SSL encryption.

3. Power and Battery Consumption

How will we balance the maintaining of open sockets and ensuring high performance while minimizing power and battery consumption? As with other mobile applications, for the connected car, power and battery consumption considerations are essential.

M2M publish/subscribe messaging protocols like MQTT are built for just this, to ensure delivery in bandwidth, high latency, and unreliable environments. MQTT specializes in messaging for always-on, low-powered devices, a perfect fit for connected car developers.

4. Presence

Connected devices are expensive, so we need a way to keep tabs on our connected cars, whether it be for fleet and freight management, taxi dispatch, or geolocation. ‘Presence’ functionality is a way to monitor individual or groups of IoT devices in realtime, and has found adoption across the connected car space. Developers can build custom vehicle states, and monitor those in realtime as they go online/offline, change state, etc.

connected car

Take fleet management for example. When delivery trucks are out on route, their capacity status is reflected in realtime with a presence system. For taxi and dispatch, the dispatch system knows when a taxi is available or when its currently full. And with geolocation, location data is updated by the millisecond, which can also be applied to taxi dispatch and freight management.

5. Bandwidth Consumption

Just like power and battery, bandwidth consumption is the fifth connected car challenge we face today. For bidirectional communication, we need open socket connections, but we can’t have them using massive loads of bandwidth. Leveraging M2M messaging protocols like the aforementioned MQTT lets us do just that.

Building the connected car on a data messaging system with low overhead, we can keep socket connections open with limited bandwidth consumption. Rather than hitting the servers once multiple times per second, keeping an open socket allows data to stream bidirectionally without requiring requests to the server.

Solution Kit for Connected Cars

The PubNub Connected Car Solution Kit makes it easy to reliably send and receive data streams from your connected car, facilitating dispatch, fleet management applications and personalized auto management apps. PubNub provides the realtime data stream infrastructure that can bring connected car projects from prototype to production without scalability issues.

For I have seen the shadow of the curved touchscreen

Last year’s CES was the modern technology equivalent of the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, proving beyond any shadow of doubt displays no longer can be thought of as only flat. While the massive curved 105-inch TVs shown by LG and Samsung drew many gawkers, the implications of curved touch displays are even wider.

At DAC 50 there were more than a few chuckles and some mystified looks when Samsung’s Dr. Stephen Woo spent a lot of his keynote address highlighting flexible displays as one of the challenges for smarter mobile devices (spin to the 27:41 mark of the video for his forward-looking comments). I think if we had polled that room at that second, there would have been two reactions: 1) yeah, right, a flexible phone, or 2) hmmmm, there must be something else going on. His comments should have provided the clue the flat display theory was about to dissolve:

Is there any major revolution coming to us? My answer to that is yes. I’m afraid that we as EDA, as well as the semiconductor industry, are not fully appreciating the magnitude of the revolution.

Woo showed the brief clip from CES 2013 introducing the first Samsung flexible display prototype, hinting that while exciting, it is still a ways from practicality. Why? He went on to explore the rigid structure of the current high volume smartphone – flat display, flat and hard board with flat and hard chips, and a hard case. I have some unpleasant recollections of trying chips on flex harnesses in the defense industry, and the problems become non-trivial with bigger parts and shock forces coming into play, not to mention manufacturing costs.

We might be getting thrown off by the limiting context of a phone as we know it. A gently curved but still fixed display poses fewer problems in fabrication using current technology. Corning has announced 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass, and Apple, LG, and Samsung are all chasing curved display fabrication and gently curved phone concepts today.

The real possibilities for smaller curved displays jump out in the context of wearables and the Internet of Things. The missing piece from this discussion: the touch interface. Flexible displays present a challenge well beyond the simplistic knobs-and-sliders, or even the science of multi-touch that allows swiping and other gestures. Abandoning the relative ease of planar coordinates implies not only smarter touch sensors, but algorithms behind them that can handle the challenges of projecting capacitance into curved space.

Illustrating the potential for curved displays with touch interfaces in automotive design, AvantCar debuted at CES 2014. Courtesy Atmel.

 

Atmel fully appreciates the magnitude of this revolution, and through a combination of serendipity and good planning is in the right place at the right time to make curved touchscreens for wearables and the IoT happen. With CES becoming an almost-auto show, it was the logical place to showcase the AvantCar proof of concept, illustrating just what curves can do for touch-enabled displays in consumer design. (Old web design axiom, holds true for industrial design too: men tend to like straight lines and precise grids, women tend to like curves and swooshes – combine both in a design for the win.)

The metal mesh technology in XSense – “fine line metal” or FLM – means the touch sensor is fabricated on a flexible PET film, able to conform to flat or reasonably curved displays up to 12 inches. XSense uses mutual capacitance, with electrodes in an orthogonal matrix, really an array of small touchscreens within a larger display. This removes ambiguity in the reported multiple touch coordinates by reporting points independently, and coincidentally enables better handling of polar coordinates following the curve of a display using Atmel’s maxTouch microcontrollers.

Utilizing fine line metal - copper etch on PET film - Atmel's XSense touch sensor is able to conform to gently curved displays.

 

Now visualize this idea outside of the car environment, extended to a myriad of IoT and wearable devices. Gone are the clunky elastomeric buttons of the typical appliance, replaced by a shaped display with configurable interfaces depending on context. Free of the need for flat surfaces and mechanical switches in designs, touch displays can be integrated into many more wearable and everyday consumer devices.

Dr. Woo’s vision of flexible displays may be a bit early, but the idea of curved displays looks to be ready for prime time. The same revolution created by projected capacitance for touch in smartphones and tablets can now impact all kinds of smaller devices, a boon for user experience designers looking for more attractive and creative ways to present interfaces.

For more on the curved automotive console proof of concept, check out Atmel’s blog on AvantCar.

What do you think of the emergence of curved displays and the coming revolution in device design? How do you see curved touchscreens changing the way industrial designers think of the user interface on devices? Looking out further, what other technological improvements are needed?

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Don Dingee is a featured blogger. It first appeared there on January 10, 2014.

The Microcosm of IoT and connected cars in Formula 1 (Part 2)

…Continued from The Microcosm of IoT in Formula 1 (Part 1)

The typical F1 racing car embodies the sophisticated engineering — designed to win and only but win. The racing platform itself (both team, driver, and car) executes every deductive decision vetted against one pillar called “performance.”

Here’s the quantified car and driver. At 1.5 gigabytes of data wirelessly transmitted per connected car during a race, the ECU (electronic control unit) generates 2-4 megabytes per second of data from the F1 cars’ 120+ various sensors, which also include the drivers’ heartbeat and vitals.  Now let’s add the upgraded network fiber deployed across each race of the year set forth to ensure every turn and tunnel can stream and broadcast this telemetry and data.

Source: ESPN Formula 1 News

Source: ESPN Formula 1 News Computers, Software, and BI [Visualization and Data]

These embedded systems comprise of technology not limited to neither automotive nor Formula 1; embedded systems are used in the aero industry, marine, medical, emergency, industrial, and in the larger home entertainment industry. Therefore, advanced technology, little by little take place in the devices that we use every day. There are many useful products that are used in the industry — even though they first surfaced — as an application in F1 racing [the proven, moving lab].

F1 electronic devices used may be generally regarded in groups [using embedded systems] by the following:

Steering Wheel Display, Interface Unit, Create a Message, Electronic Control, Telemetry, Speed, Interface Unit, EV, Regenerative Power, Ignition Coil, Management System, Access to Pitstop, Power Source, Gryro Stabilizer, Humidty, Triggering Device, Acceleration, Rainy Lights, Air Resistance, Linear Movement, Angular positions, Lambda probe, Liquid pressure, Tire pressure, Temperature, Torque, Signaling, Server, Computer, Display Data (BI), Software

igure 4: Steering Wheel of Sauber F1 Source - nph / Dieter Mathis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Source – nph / Dieter Mathis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Here is an example Formula 1 steering wheel. It’s the embedded electronic enchilada, serving information [resulting from actuators and sensors] to a driver [on a need to know basis]. The driver coincides his race style and plan [tire management, performance plan, passing maneuvers, aggressive tactic] to every bit of data and resulted in a formatted display. These are literally at his fingers.

What are some of the F1 connected car implications?

Drivers in Formula 1 have access to functionality through their race platforms, which helps improve speed and increase passing opportunities. The DRS (Drag Reduction System) helps control and manage moveable rear wing. For a driver, in conjunction with Pirelli tires and KERS, it has proven successful in its pursuit of increasing overtaking which is all good for the fan base and competitive sport. The DRS moves an aerodynamic wing on a Formula 1 race car. When activated via the driver’s steering wheel, the DRS system alters the wing profile shape and direction, greatly reducing the drag on the wing by minimizing down force [flattening of the wing and reduce drag by 23%.]. Well, now coupled with the reduction in drag, this enables faster acceleration and a higher top speed while also changes variably the driving characteristics and style for over-taking. These are called driver and protocol adjustable body works.

How it works? Like all movable components of an F1 pure breed, the system relies on hydraulic lines tied to embedded control units, and actuators to control the flap. Managed by a cluster of servo valves manufactured by Moog, the Moog valves are interfaced via an electronic unit receiving a secure signal from the cockpit. Of course, this all happens under certain circumstances. When two or more cars pass over timing loops in the surface of the track, if a following car is measured at less than one second behind a leading car it will be sent a secure signal [encrypted then transmitted via RF] that will allow its driver to deploy the car’s active rear wing. Since the timing loops will be sited after corners, drivers will only be able to deploy the active rear wing as a car goes down a specific straight paths in many tracks.  In essence, the modern day Formula 1 car is a connected platform dynamically enabled to produce a stronger driver, appealing more to both driver performance and fan engagement.

Moveable aerodynamic components are nothing new. But still, for an Airbus A320 or even a modern UAV or fighter jet, there is a huge amount of space to work in. On a grand prix car, it’s quite different. This is also achieved in a very hyper fast, mobile, and logistically drained environment of Formula 1, where performance, equipment, and configuration are a demanded at all times. Next we’ll summarize how this relates to the broader connected car concept…

F1 showcases the finer elements of connected cars, making it possible

Just discussed, cars in general are going to become literally the larger mobile device. They will be connected to all sorts of use-cases and applications. Most importantly, we are the drivers, and we will become connected drivers. Both driver and connected car will become more seamless.

The next phase where smart mobility is going to change how we do and behave after we before or after we reach our destination. In Wired Magazine’s column named Forget the Internet of Things: Here Comes the ‘Internet of Cars’, Thilo Koslowski discusses the improvements and why connected cars are inevitably near. Thilo, a leading expert on the evolution of the automotive industry and the connected vehicle says, ““Connected vehicles” are cars that access, consume, create, enrich, direct, and share digital information between businesses, people, organizations, infrastructures, and things. Those ‘things’ include other vehicles, which is where the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Cars.”

Yes, for the connected car, there still exist a number of technology challenges and legislative issues to build out a successful broader impact. Like Formula 1, we attribute many of its tech surfacing into main stream markets [previously discussed in part 1]. This next automotive revolution stems on current and related industry trends such as the convergence of digital lifestyles, the emergence of new mobility solutions, demographic shifts, and the rise of smartphones and the mobile internet.Thilo further claims “As these vehicles become increasingly connected, they become self-aware, contextual, and eventually, autonomous. Those of you reading this will probably experience self-driving cars in your lifetime — though maybe not all three of its evolutionary phases: from automated to autonomous to unmanned.”

connected-sensors-microcontrollers-atmel-iot-new-services

Actually, a consumer shift is happening. Consumers now expect to access relevant information ranging from geo location, integration of social data, way points, destination, sites of interest, recommendations, ones digital foot print integrated into the “connected car” experience. The driver will become connected with all the various other touch points in his/her digital life. Moreover, this will happen wherever they go including in the automobile. Thilo even goes to as far as claiming, “At the same time, these technologies are making new mobility solutions – such as peer-to-peer car sharing – more widespread and attractive. This is especially important since vehicle ownership in urban areas is expensive and consumers, especially younger ones, don’t show the same desire for vehicle ownership as older generations do.

To be successful, connected vehicles will draw on the leading technologies in sensors, displays, on-board and off-board computing, in-vehicle operating systems, wireless and in-vehicle data communication, machine learning, analytics, speech recognition, and content management. (That’s just to name a few.) “

All together, the build out of the connected car, [aspects proven in F1], contributes considerable business benefits and opportunities:

  •  Lowered emissions & extended utility of EVs — remote Battery swap stations, cars as (Internet as a service), peer to peer car sharing, cars with payment capabilities, subscription of energy, vehicles as power plants back to the grid, KERS, and other alternative fuel savings displaced with electrical motors and emerging consumer conscience accountability to clean energy
  • New entertainment options — countless integration opportunities with mobile (M2M and IoT) ecosystem of value added connected Apps and mobile services (i.e. Uber disrupted an old traditional market)
  • New marketing and commerce experiences — countless use-cases in increasing the engagement and point of arrival offerings
  • Reduced accident rates — albeit found in crash avoidance systems, location based services, driver monitoring, emergency response automation, early warning automation, telemetry to lower insurance cost, or advanced assisted driving
  • Increased productivity — gains achieved via efficiencies/time management towards more sustainable commutes
  • Improved traffic flow — efficient system merging various datasets to advance navigation to minimize and balance capacity or re-route traffic

Sensors-connected-IoT-Car

Personalization-connected-driver Like all technology, old ideas will progress, evolve to newer platforms to bring new functionality that can adapt to the latest popular ecosystem [simply being mobile & connected]. Connected cars will expand automotive business models augmenting new services and products to many industries — retail, financial services, media, IT, and consumer electronics. The traditional automotive business model can be significantly transformed for the betterment of the consumer experience. Today, emphasis is placed much purely on the  output, sale, and maintenance of a vehicles.  Later on, once connected cars reach market maturity with wide adoption, companies will focus on the sum of business opportunities [value add chain ecosystem] leveraged from the connected vehicles and the connected driver.

Are you a product maestro or someone with domain expertise for your company seeking to improve processes or developing value added services to build IoT enabled products? Perhaps, you are in a vertical intended to accelerate business and customer satisfaction? With all this business creation stirring up, it’s quite clear the connected car platform will open new customer connected services or product enhanced offerings.

That all being said, we are already in this moment of the future with Formula 1. Connected cars will eventually come. It’s just a matter of time…

(Interested in reading more? Don’t forget to check out Part 1.)

f1-tech-garage-padock

The Microcosm of IoT and connected cars in Formula 1 (Part 1)

Aerodynamics has always been a primary factor in decision-making and competitiveness in motor sports. For a racer, understanding the car platforms racing characteristics helps tune a competitive racing plan, yielding the advantages and disadvantages to the competitive car. The racer delivers the maximum window of opportunity to gain advantage in a fierce duel [passing], managing wheel tactics, or sharpening telemetry to aggressive drive fitted to the contours of each unique track characteristics.

Figure 1 Source- Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi

Source: Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi

The cutting-edge, technology-showcase-of-sports scene found in Formula 1 has dubbed the apex-racing category for motor sports. Inside the renowned world of Formula 1, this motor sport generates worldwide acclaim and accolade for their engineering prowess and technical astute packaged into these aggressively fast-engineered machines. Smartly made machines — but dependent — not to mention keen athletic training and talents bestowed in these rare class of trim, zippy, and binocular vision drivers.

Figure 2- Source - Red Bull Racing Forum

Source: Red Bull Racing Forum

It’s really a wrestle between man and machine. Though, a racer learns early on not to wrestle with the machine, he loses time. Instead, it’s a careful calculative balance of split decisions and engineering, combined with whim. Cut slices toward the fractions of time — take on technology — trigger the right moments to enhance split second timing and on-demand performance. Accumulate these gains over the duration of the race. Enhance these car-passing opportunities with certain speed and handling enhancing technology.

Figure 2: Source - Red Bull Racing Forum

Source: Formula 1 Mclaren Racing

Looking across the grid, there is talent laden in all areas and discipline found across each team, coupled with engineers from all categories including aerodynamic specialist to embedded designers and systems engineers. Quite arguably, some even conjure the idea that the top performers in Formula 1 are overweighed by the countless engineering feats and advantage any team may have between each other. Ideally, it’s really a competitive game of the team’s engineering diligence and driver configuration cleverness that brings about the result of any race (70-80 laps) to the finish. Like in many sports these days, there’s technology all intertwined and designed to ensure maximum results and increase the capacity for performance, achieve the end goal.

In fact, drawn forth purely by engineering or design perspective, one can find parallels to how the Spitfire engines helped win the battle of Britain when the successor aspirating Rolls Royce dual supercharged engines had stronger performance at high altitudes as well as inclined accent and descent during the Battle of Britain where the air defense weighed the tipping point to the turnout of the war countering swarms of ME109s in this western theatre. In every aspect of Formula 1, there is a lot of computing involved. The computing casts are inter-dependent—serve different purposes—but also combined in a beautiful orchestration of “man-machine-driver-media-fans.”

On the one hand, there’s the horsepower required to compute different airspeed dynamics and telemetry over the car’s form, while on the other hand there are massive parallel computing used to analyze the streams of data transmitted by the cars in real time. No doubt, look no further, Formula 1 is thrives with tech and talent, ranging from electronics, electric motors, gas, passion, and atheletic know-how… Even to the point of real-time broadcast, there are the vast amounts of profiled data and video selectively transmitted to individual, teams, and media [airlifted via special 747s from race to race].

MCUs and MPUs help process, decide on game changing speed

Well, let’s fast forward through the world of the F-A-S-T and furious Formula 1. Not only in the motor racing sports, but automotive industry is captivating a growing share of embedded (electronic) devices encompassing a wide range of localized computing, sensors, actuators, and connected devices for telemetry. The sensors streamline real-time—in the case of Formula 1, data to the team’s pit crew garage—transmit to the computer/remote computer—which in turn is primarily based on the received data managed by mechanical or digital processes through actuators. In today’s market, more newly unveiled cars are moving closer to adopting electronic and connected capabilities; ranging from self parking, guidance sensors, auto radar, advance collision avoidance, hybrid powertrain (ERS), advance assisted drive, telemetry reporting, navigation, emergency, recharging, HUDs, brake by wire, skid control, safety, KERS, instant power assist systems, electric drive system, electronic shifters, air induction, turbo, ABS, etc… In fact, many of these are originally given birth in race engineering, evolved out from these pinnacle circuits to mainstream consumer application and vehicle platforms.

The concept of actuators and their influence in IoT nodes

In the embedded world, actuators are like sensors. An actuator is the mechanism, a control system that acts upon an environment. The control system can be simple, a fixed mechanical or electronic system, software-based (e.g. a 3D printer driver, robot control system, security system, electric [EV] motors, manufacturing line automation, medical linear applications), a human, or any other input. Now, let’s think of them in the language of Industrial Internet or Internet of Things — actuators can be digital — labeled as presence sensors, augmented HMI sensors, or filter reality sensors measuring certain keynotes to the external world (accelerometers, magnetometers, gravimeters, gyroscope, tilt, environment, force, thermal, chemical, gases, flow, gravimeter, etc). The computer has become an essential part of the modern car, which certainly makes a huge improvement, but it also requires trained personnel for their service. Of course, this is all coming along now with the next era of the connected car as things move closer to this reality. Let’s consider how we got there: historically to cars today to cars tomorrow — where could we possibly go?

Can the typical family car be perceived as a transformative vehicle platform?

It’s all driving this direction. Very soon, the connected car may very well be the most advance platform for any household.  The connected car is a highly efficient vehicle platform, connected to the grid and cloud, while also acting as an energy generating platform, as discussed by James O’Brien. “An industry standard for cars will do the same for autos as the USB cable has done for the computer world,” claims Jake Sigal, CEO at Livio, a company acquired by Ford Motors to help position the automobile platform to facilitate the connected car. Even now, there is much anticipation and support from Formula 1 drivers voicing their support for the connected car. Formula 1 drivers Nico Rosberg, Giedo van der Garde, Timo Glock and Jérôme d’Ambrosio offer their support for connected car technologies. They call it eCall and eco-driving. This common camaraderie demands maturation of this automotive trajectory supports alignment of safe, efficient and connected mobility.

Formula One drivers voice support for the connected car

Source: FIA Region @Vimeo Formula One drivers voice support for the connected car

Automotive computing is different. The embedded systems themselves must be adequately protected from extreme vibrations, energy, dust, heat, water, ice, and moisture (all types). Hence, they are truly different inheriting environments that are not even close to the typical personal computer. Embedded computing devices built into the cars must be technologically advanced at high levels and tough standards. Still there are more sophisticated ways to use embedded devices in the car. This sophistication is most evident in the design and construction of racing cars, most notably witnessed in Formula 1

(Continued in Part 2)