Tag Archives: automotive design

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.

Atmel tightens automotive focus with new Cortex-M7 MCUs


Large SoCs without an Ethernet interface typically have slow start-up times and high-power requirements — until now. 


Atmel, a lead partner for the ARM Cortex-M7 processor launch in October 2014, has unveiled three new M7-based microcontrollers with a unique memory architecture and advanced connectivity features for the connected car market.

According to a company spokesman, E70, V71 and V70 chips are the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M microcontrollers with six-stage dual-issue pipeline delivering 1500 CoreMarks at 300MHz. Moreover, V70 and V71 microcontrollers are the only automotive-qualified ARM Cortex-M7 MCUs with Audio Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet and Media LB peripheral support.

Cortex-M7-chip-diagramLG

Atmel is among the first suppliers to introduce the ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, whose core combines performance and simplicity and further pushes the performance envelope for embedded devices. The new MCU devices are aimed to take the connected car design to the next performance level with high-speed connectivity, high-density on-chip memory, and a solid ecosystem of design engineering tools.

Atmel’s Memory Play

Atmel has memory technology in its DNA, and that seems apparent in the design footprint of E70, V70 and V71 MCUs. The San Jose-based chipmaker is offering a flexible memory system that is optimized for performance, determinism and low latency.

Jacko Wilbrink, Senior Marketing Director at Atmel, said that the company’s Cortex-M7-based MCUs leverage Atmel’s advanced peripherals and flexible SRAM architecture for higher performance applications while keeping the Cortex-M class ease-of-use. He added that the large on-chip SRAM on SAM E70/V70/V71 chips is critical for connected car and IoT product designers since it allows them to run the multiple communication stacks and applications on the same MCU without adding external memory.

On-chip DMA and low-latency access SRAM architecture

On-chip DMA and low-latency access SRAM architecture

Avoiding the 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. Next, Tim Grai, another senior manager at Atmel, pointed out another critical take from Cortex-M7 designs: The tightly coupled memory (TCM) interface. It provides the low-latency memory that the processor can use without the unpredictability that is a feature of cache memories.

Grai says that the most vital memory feature is not the memory itself but how the TCM interface to the M7 is utilized. “The available RAM is configurable to be used as system RAM or tightly-coupled instruction and data memory to the core, where it provides deterministic zero-wait state access,” Grai added. “The arrangement of SRAM allows for multiple concurrent accesses.”

Cortex-M7 a DSP Winner

According to Will Strauss, President & Principal Analyst at Forward Concepts, ARM has had considerable success with its Cortex-M4 power-efficient 32-bit processor chip family. “However, realizing that it lacked the math ability to do more sophisticated DSP functions, ARM has introduced the Cortex-M7, its newest and most powerful member of the Cortex-M family.”

Strauss adds that the M7 provides 32-bit floating point DSP capability as well as faster execution times. With the greater clock speed, floating point and twice the DSP power of the M4, the M7 is even more attractive for applications requiring high-performance audio and even video accompanying traditional automotive and control applications.

Atmel’s Grai added an interesting dimension to the DSP story in Cortex-M7 processor fabric. He pointed out that true DSPs don’t do control and logical functions well and 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 V70 and V71 microcontrollers 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, modulated to match the requirement for each specific speaker in the car. So you need Ethernet and DSP capabilities at the same time.

Grai says that 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. Atmel is targeting the V70 and V71 chips as a bridge between large application processors and Ethernet.

Most of the time, the main processor does not integrate Ethernet AVB, as the infotainment connectivity is based on Ethernet standard. Here, the V71 microcontroller brings this feature to the main processor. “Large SoCs, which usually don’t have Ethernet interface, have slow start-up time and high power requirements,” Grai said. “Atmel’s V7x MCUs allow fast network start-up and facilitate power moding.”

The SAM E70, V70 and V71

Atmel’s three new MCU devices are aimed at multiple aspects of in-vehicle infotainment connectivity and telematics control.

SAM E70: The microcontroller series features Dual CAN-FD, 10/100 Ethernet MAC with IEEE1588 real-time stamping, and AVB support. It’s aimed at automotive industry’s movement toward controller area network (CAN) message-based protocols holistically across the cabin, eliminating isolation and wire redundancy, and have them all bridged centrally with the CAN interface.

SAM V70: It’s designed for MediaLB connectivity and leverages advanced audio processing, multi-port memory architecture and Cortex-M7 DSP capabilities. For the media-oriented systems transport (MOST) architecture, old modules are not redesigned. So Atmel offers a MOST solution that is done over Media Local Bus (MediaLB) and is supported by the V70 series.

SAM V71: The MCU series ports a complete automotive Ethernet AVB stack for in-vehicle infotainment connectivity, audio amplifiers, telematics and head control units. It mirrors the SAM V70 series features as well as combines Ethernet-AVB and MediaLB connectivity stacks.


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.

Single chip MCU + DSP architecture for automotive = SAM V71


Automotive apps are running in production by million units per year, and cost is a crucial factor when deciding on an integrated solution.


It’s all about Cost of Ownership (CoO) and system level integration. If you target automotive related application, like audio or video processing or control of systems (Motor control, inverter, etc.), you need to integrate strong performance capable MCU with a DSP. In fact, if you expect your system to support Audio Video Bridging (AVB) MAC on top of the targeted application and to get the automotive qualification, the ARM Cortex-M7 processor-based Atmel SAMV70/71 should be your selection: offering the fastest clock speed of his kind (300 MHz), integrating a DSP Floating Point Unit (FPU), supporting AVB and qualified for automotive.

Let’s have a closer look at the SAM V71 internal architecture, shall we?

A closer look at Atmel | SMART ARM based Cortex M7 - SAMV71 internal architecture.

A closer look at Atmel | SMART ARM based Cortex M7 – SAMV71 internal architecture.

When developing a system around a microcontroller unit, you expect this single chip to support as many peripherals as needed in your application to minimize the global cost of ownership. That’s why you can see the long list of system peripherals (top left of the block diagram). Meanwhile, the Atmel | SMART SAM V71 is dedicated to support automotive infotainment application, e.g. Dual CAN and Ethernet MAC (bottom right). If we delve deeper into these functions, we can list these supported features:

  • 10/100 Mbps, IEEE1588 support
  • MII (144-pin), RMII (64-, 100, 144-pin)
  • 12 KB SRAM plus DMA
  • AVB support with Qav & Qas HW support for Audio traffic support
  • 802.3az Energy efficiency support
  • Dual CAN-FD
  • Up to 64 SRAM-based mailboxes
  • Wake up from sleep or wake up modes on RX/TX

The automotive-qualified SAM V70 and V71 series also offers high-speed USB with integrated PHY and Media LB, which when combined with the Cortex-M7 DSP extensions, make the family ideal for infotainment connectivity and audio applications. Let’s take a look at this DSP benchmark:

DSP bench-Atmel-SAM-Cortex-M7

ARM CM7 Performance normalized relative to SHARC (Higher numbers are better).

If you are not limited by budget consideration and can afford integrating one standard DSP along with a MCU, you will probably select the SHARC 21489 DSP (from Analog Devices) offering the best-in-class benchmark results for FIR, Biquad and real FFT. However, such performance has a cost, not only monetarily but also in terms of power consumption and board footprint — we can call that “Cost of Ownership.” Automotive apps are running in production by million units per year, and cost is absolutely crucial in this market segment, especially when quickly deciding to go with an integrated solution.

To support audio or video infotainment application, you expect the DSP integrated in the Cortex-M7 to be “good enough” and you can see from this benchmark results that it’s the case for Biquad for example, as ARM CM7 is equal or better than any other DSP (TI C28, Blackfin 50x or 70x) except the SHARC 21489… but much cheaper! Good enough means that the SAMV70 will support automotive audio (Biquad in this case) and keep enough DSP power for Ethernet MAC (10/100 Mbps, IEEE1588) support.

Ethernet AVB via Atmel Cortex M7

Ethernet AVB Architectures (SAM V71)

In the picture above, you can see the logical SAM V71 architectures for Ethernet AVB support and how to use the DSP capabilities for Telematics Control Unit (TCU) or audio amplifier.

Integrating a DSP means that you need to develop the related DSP code. Because the DSP is tightly integrated into the ARM CM7 core, you may use the MCU development tools (and not specific DSP tools) for developing your code. Since February, the ATSAMV71-XULT (full-featured Xplained board, SAM V71 Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit with software package drivers supporting basic drivers, software services, libraries for Atmel SAMV71, V70, E70, S70 Cortex-M7 based microcontrollers) is available from Atmel. As this board has been built around the feature-rich SAM V71, you can develop your automotive application on the same exact MCU architecture as the part going into production.

SAMV71 Ultra Xplained - Atmel ARM Cortex M7

Versatility and Integrated DSP built into the ARM CM7 core allows for MCU development tools to be used instead of having to revert to specific DSP tools. You can develop your automotive application on exactly the same MCU architecture than the part going into production.

Interested? More information on this eval/dev board can found here.


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 April 29, 2015.

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)

Hot August Nights Fever? Atmel Automotive Infographic

People love their cars. It’s one of those near universal facts. Whether they live in big cities or small rural hamlets, drive a mini or a hummer, there is just something about the sexy vroom vroom of an engine that excites people on a primal level.

Perhaps it’s the destructive force in us that is drawn to what is basically a controlled explosion on wheels. Perhaps it’s something to do with an automobile’s sleek and contoured chassis – or the human need for speed.

Or maybe, it’s because there is a certain zen to be found in tinkering with an engine. Of souping up and optimizing an already lean, mean machine, and making it purr. Somewhere in all of us is an engineer who simply wants to solve puzzles – and what greater puzzle to solve than the many moving parts to be found under the hood?

We at Atmel are especially passionate about the automotive space, having been one of the first semiconductor companies to enter the market, embracing both the productive and the creative passion from the get-go.

Atmel_August Auto_Final

Telefunken (the pre- predecessor of Atmel Automotive) was founded as early as 1903, while the Heilbronn fab in Germany, acquired by Atmel in the 1980’s, was founded way back in 1960.

Atmel’s first success in automotive was (rather fittingly) the electronic ignition IC which, in 1979/1980, was installed in every Volkswagen car.

Another early milestone along Atmel’s automotive roadmap was, ironically, braking. A start-to-stop scenario, so to speak.

The market for connected vehicles is expected to grow to a whopping $53 billion by 2018, with consumers demanding more and more connectivity each year.

A study by Deloitte in 2011 determined that 46% of people between the ages of 18-24 cited connectivity as being “extremely important” to them when it came to cars, with 37% wanting to stay as connected as possible while in their vehicles. A resounding 65% identified remote vehicle control as an important feature in their next automotive purchase; while 77% favored remote diagnostics minimizing dealer visits. And let’s face it, who can blame them?

A 2013 study by Cisco went even further, positing that Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications could enable cars to detect each other’s presence and location, helping avoid accidents, lower road costs and decrease carbon emissions. The report also found that intelligent cars would lead to 7.5% less time wasted in traffic congestion and 4% lower costs for vehicle fuel.

With over 1 billion passenger cars careening through the world’s streets already, increased digitization can’t come fast enough!

Today, Atmel supplies all 10 of the top 10 tier 1 automotive electronic suppliers in the world, not only with microcontrollers (MCUs), but with touch sensor technology too. Indeed, Atmel’s latest touch innovation, the bendable, flexible, printed wonder that is Xsense, has now been fully qualified and is ready to ramp, meaning sexy curved glass dashboards are closer than you’d imagine… Not bad for a feature originally developed as a piece of wood attached to the front of a horse drawn carriage to prevent mud from splattering the driver!

Atmel is also renowned for being a leading car access supplier, meaning we make the chips that enable cool remote keyless entry (RKE) systems with immobilizers, to reduce the risk of anyone stealing your steel beauty away from you. In fact, Atmel has already delivered over 250 Million ICs for this specific application, so that’s a whole lot of key fobs! Speaking of key fobs, here’s a fun fact; holding a remote car key to your head doubles its range because the human skull acts as an amplifier.

Moving from cool keyfobs to total hotness, it’s also worth noting that Atmel sells some of the highest temperature resistant parts in the market, some of which can handle heat of up to 200°C.

Last, but certainly not least, Atmel boasts the world’s largest portfolio of Local Interconnect Network (LIN) devices, for communication between components in vehicles. The firm’s devices have OEM approvals from all major car manufacturers worldwide, which is certainly something to be proud of.

So next time you find yourself on that long and winding road, kicking into high gear and hugging those curves, spare a thought for the components, because when it comes to cars, the devil really is in the details.