Tag Archives: Connected Car

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.

The top 6 trends from CES 2015


As our week in Vegas comes to a close, we’re recapping some of the most talked-about products and trends from the show floor. 


Ah, CES. A week full of keynotes, productive meetings, surprising celebrity sightings, and of course, a number of incredible innovations from startups, Makers and mainstream corporations alike. Last week proved to be no different, as a record-setting crowd witnessed everything from driverless cars and humanoid robots, to 3D-printed foods and Jetsons-esque home appliances, to self-watering plants and drones.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 2015’s show was the largest in CES history with more than 170,000 attendees in Las Vegas, compared to approximately 160,000 just a year ago — 45,000 of whom were from outside the United States. In addition to visitors, there were about 3,600 exhibitors throughout the show floor demonstrating products in a number of categories, such as automotive electronics, healthcare solutions, connected devices, gaming and more.

While the event remains the place-to-be to experience the latest TV and audio products from companies like Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic, more importantly, it is where the rapdily-growing Internet of Things seemed to infiltrate nearly every facet of our lives — from the kitchen to the road. Evident by the sheer volume of booths found throughout Eureka Park, countless crowdfunded projects and smaller businesses captured the eyes of CES-goers — ranging from wearables and 3D printers to modular DIY kits and smart home devices.

Smart Homes

IMG_3926_Whirlpool CES 2015

As expected, 2015 was surely the year of connected living. Google’s Nest launched a new range of partnerships to support appliances throughout the home, Whirlpool unveiled its Smart Top Load Washer/Dryer and Kitchen of the Future 2.0 concept (features a backsplash and cooktop that connects a user to social networks, websites and recipes), LG debuted a dual-load washing machine (allows two different loads to be washed at once while the user monitors its status via smartphone), Samsung revealed a robotic vacuum cleaner, while Parrot introduced a self-watering plant pot (senses moisture levels, fertilizer, sunlight and temperature, then regulates the watering process). Two other areas in and around the home that got plenty of attention were lighting and security, ranging from bulbs that deter burglars to easy-to-use, low-cost DIY systems.

Connected Cars

IMG_3856

While Back to the Future flying cars may have yet come to fruition, driverless cars and connected vehicles are certainly entering the fast lane in 2015. Mercedes released what the company calls a “forerunner of a mobility revolution,” a contemporary plug-in hybrid car that utilizes sensors and 3D cameras to steer without human assistance. In addition to the German autonomous automobile, Audi exhibited a self-driving car, BMW demoed a smartwatch-controlled vehicle, VW highlighted one capable of parking itself, while Ford showed off its latest smartphone-like interface. Elsewhere, Atmel unveiled its AvantCar 2.0 center console concept. Tomorrow’s drivers are demanding a more modern HMI experience, especially in the center display, with no mechanical buttons or clunky knobs. The futuristic AvantCar 2.0 was packed with active touchscreens, curved form factors, personalized color schemes and navigation menus via touch buttons and sliders in a cutting-edge sleek design.

Robotics

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Safe to say, there wasn’t a shortage of robots at this year’s CES either. It seemed like quadcopter drones were everywhere, spanning from LVCC’s South Hall to Tech West. There was everything from those that could track and follow an individual to some that were taking selfies to new heights. Furthermore, standard non-flying robots weren’t left out of the CES party either, particularly those like Ozobot and LocoRobo, which were designed to inspire STEM-based disciplines and to teach kids how to code. Then, there were those with real world applications, such the robotic personal chef Cooki. Similar to those seen at Maker Faire events across the world, exoskeletons were also a featured attraction throughout the week, most impressively, ones equipped to carry heavy loads and enable paralyzed individuals to walk again. Last but not least, Toshiba stole the show with their ChihiraAico humanoid robot that could introduce herself in English, gesture like an actual person and more.

Wearables

Pop

From sensor-laden clothing to connected collars for pets, wearable technology was definitely one of, if not the most, apparent trends at the show. Emiota exhibited a smart belt that could adjust its size based on a wearer’s food consumption, Misfit unveiled a new fitness tracker in collaboration with Swarovski to enhance its aesthetic appeal, Garmin debuted a lineup of Vivoactive, Fenix 3 and Epix watches, and Withings introduced a minimalist-faced Activité Pop, while other major brands (i.e. Guess) set out to usher in a new wave of fashionable devices to adorn our bodies. Meanwhile, Sensoria showcased smart socks that could track and analyze runs, Cambridge Consultants released a smart shirt that monitors vital statistics, and Rainbow Winters’ new dress possessed the ability to change colors based on peoples’ moods. Other players in the field such as TempTraq and VivaLnk revealed a new set of wearable technology for the baby market, with thermometer-like connected patches, while Zensorium’s Being watch was designed to monitor and analyze wearers’ stress levels.

3D Printers

3d print

While 3D printing may not have been at the center of all the buzz this CES like it had in 2014, it did demonstrate the optimistic future for the next-gen technology. Indeed, a number of exciting and innovative creations could be found throughout the halls, ranging from 3D-printed musical instruments to dresses. It was also made clear that filament was moving beyond just plastic, with new materials like metal, wood, stone and even chocolate set to become the norm. Among the other notable news at the show was XYZprinting’s latest food printer and MakerBot’s Composite PLA filaments.

Virtual Reality

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2015 will be remembered as the year VR matured into a serious consumer category. HP introduced a 23-inch VR-enabled display, Samsung exhibited its own goggles, Virtuix demoed the first-of-its-kind gaming treadmill, Razer announced Open Source VR, while as predicted, heavyweight Oculus had a rather impressive presence at the show.

Introducing Atmel’s new LIN family for in-vehicle networking

LIN (Local Interconnect Network) is a serial network protocol used for communication between various automobile components to enable comfort, power-train, infotainment sensor, and actuator applications. The LIN Consortium was founded by five automakers (BMW, Volkswagen Audi Group, Volvo Cars, DaimlerChrysler) in the late 1990s, with the first fully-implemented version of the new LIN specification (1.3) published in November 2002. Version 2.0 was later introduced in September 2003, offering expanded capabilities and support for additional diagnostics features.

Fast forward 11 years later, Atmel is excited to announce its next-generation family of LIN transceivers, system basis chips (SBC) and voltage regulators for a wide-range of vehicle applications. The new family is the industry’s first to comply with the new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware recommendations and provide scalable functionality to improve the overall system cost.

SNS16_8_family_layered

“As the leading provider of automotive LIN ICs, Atmel is committed to bringing more innovative LIN products to the market,” said Claus Mochel, Atmel Marketing Director for Automotive High Voltage Products.

All the new devices in this new family feature an LDO with outstanding minimum supply voltage of 2.3V combined with linear mode current of 130uA to support data storage even during an unexpected shut down. This new family is compliant with the latest standards including LIN 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.2A and SAEJ2602-2. Some members of the family also include application specific functions such as relay drivers, watchdog, high-side switches and wake up inputs to enable system designers to build innovative in-vehicle network applications in next-generation automobiles.

The devices are available in DFN packages with heat-slug and wet-able flanks to support optical solder inspection. These next-generation devices also provide a family package footprint so that designers can upgrade their designs with various devices within the LIN SBC family.

“Our expanded LIN portfolio includes pin-outs that are the first to support the new OEM hardware recommendations enabling system designers to develop differentiated LIN systems in next-generation vehicles. Atmel’s LIN family footprint makes it easier to migrate upwards and devices in the family offer application-specific functionality for various LIN-connected applications such as window lifters, sun-roofs, trunk opener or seat controls,” Mochel added.

banner_lin

Key features of the ATA6632/33/34 include:

  • +3.3V/5V/85mA LDO suitable for usage with low-cost multi layer ceramic capacitors
  • 2.3V lowest operating voltage
  • Very low current consumption in linear mode
  • Sleep current; Normal mode current
  • DFN 8 (3x3mm) and DFN16 (3*5.5mm), wet-able flanks included, allowing automatic optical inspection of the solder joint

In order to accelerate the design development, an evaluation kit is also available to support the new LIN devices. The ATAB663xxxA development kit allows designers to quickly start designing with Atmel’s LIN family. The kit is easy-to-use with a pre-defined set-up. All pins are easily accessible for quick testing. The kits allow designers to select master or slave operation with a mounting option for LIN pull-up resistor and series diode.

Those interested will be happy to learn that samples for all family members are now available. You can find more detailed information — including datasheets and request forms — here.

Heading to Munich next week for Electronica 2014? Cruise on over to the Atmel booth — located in Hall A5, #542 — to discover how we’re bringing the IoT to the connected car though simple, touch-enabled human machine interfaces. There, you will find a number of automotive demos, including a door handle powered by Atmel’s fourth generation LIN device that features a curved touch-enabled glass display, providing excellent multi-touch performance for future automotive applications, and utilizing Atmel’s XSense and the maXTouch 2952T.

 

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.

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)

Take a drive on the IoT with V2V

What platform has become the most sophisticated and intimate personal electronic environment ever? The car. To paraphrase a famous automotive company’s top executive, car companies are transforming the car into a powerful smartphone that allows drivers to carry around, customize, and interact with their digital world. Automotive electronics are currently centered around people (infotainment and communications) and the machine itself (to run the car and provide safety and convenience). Now a third element is emerging; namely, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications. 

Just like that sounds, cars will soon “talk and listen” to one another — automatically. They will share information like proximity, speed, direction, road conditions, as well as other things that have yet to been imagined. The chief driver of V2V is signaling impending collisions so that the cars can automatically take countermeasures. That, of course, means the V2V network will become a critical technology for self- and assisted-driving cars.

V2V

While it may seem revolutionary, V2V is really an evolutionary branch of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which are creating a world where smart, secure, and communicating, sensors will become ubiquitous in planes, trains, and automobiles; inside homes; inside commercial buildings; on highways; in cities and towns; in agriculture; in factories; in retail spaces; and worn by and implanted in humans and animals. The Internet of Things could eventually connect everything from cars to cats.

A term that is being used to describe the technologies making such a smart, sensor saturated world is “sensor dust,” which captures the Zeitgeist that super tiny, smart, communicating sensors will be everywhere — like dust.  Sensors, of course, are never just sensors. They are always connected to other things–mainly microcontrollers (MCUs). With the advent of ultra-low power and energy harvesting technology, the sensor-MCU combination has become an ideal, clear, and present foundation for widespread sensor roll out. Sensing often implies by its very nature detection and communication from a distance, and that is where wireless communication comes into play.

The dark side is that remote sensing and communication open the door very wide for bad actors who want to intercept, spoof, and misuse the data streaming freely through the air. So, security (encryption and/or authentication) becomes the final piece of the picture, and arguably the element that makes IoT even possible to be widely adopted. Huge amounts of information are already being collected every day about traffic flow from phone users worldwide (without their knowing it). Such storehouses of data can be mined real time and used to provide personal traffic reports to subscribers while driving. At least that is the story. As the car moves from one place to the other, social networking can be effectuated in real time to locate friends or certain activities and happenings (automotive flash-mob, anyone?). But, what consumers really want their whereabouts and other information out in the open in a completely uncontrolled way? No one. People are becoming extremely sensitive to data insecurity and there is a growing need to trust how the information that is being collected will be used. Without some type of trust, the IoT could be doomed. Maybe the term “Internet of Trust” should be coined to make that point obvious.

Internet of Trust

V2V & IoT

The evolution of V2V and IoT are intimately related because they both will be composed of the very same technological blocks. The overlap is easy to see.  The foundational components of each are miniaturized MCUs, sensors, wireless technology, and security devices that operate using ultra low power. Describing IoT and V2V as equations, they could be expressed in the following way:              

 IoT = (MCU + Sensor + Security + Wireless) Low Power              

V2V = IoT + Car

Equation one might imply that companies that can integrate the factors will lead in the build-out of the IoT market. Equation two effectively states that V2V is the IoT on wheels. In any case, there are certain basic blocks that must be integrated, and they must be integrated in the right way for the particular use-case. IoT and V2V design flexibility and time to market will matter, a lot.  (But that is a topic for another time.) The growth of the connected car platform is expected to be remarkable. That makes sense since the car is the one place that GPS/NAV systems, smart phones, tablets, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, Bluetooth, satellite radio, high power stereo amps, speakers, voice control, and the Internet can all come together and interact with each other.

Such convergence is making the car into an advanced personal hub. Market researchers have estimated that revenue for the connected car market will grow from $17 billion in 2012 to $54.5 billion in 2018 for hardware and services (telematics, telecom, and in-vehicle). Unit sales of embedded, tethered, and smartphone equipped cars are expected to grow from around 10 million units in 2012 to 67 million by 2018, with over 50% of that volume being embedded systems that are controlled by media and sensor control systems.

Media control systems are not only becoming a standard feature in new cars, but according to consumer electronics and auto industry researchers, a chief reason that people are selecting certain cars over others. Electronics are becoming a main forethought rather than a minor afterthought for car buyers. Sophisticated electronic systems are becoming mandatory, and this powerful dynamic will only accelerate as more electronics products, features, and services are sped to the market by the car makers, consumer electronics companies, smartphone makers, and software providers.

However, all this electronic stuff has presented a huge challenge, which is safety. Using products such as the cell phone in the car actually interferes badly with driving. Anyone who has placed a call, or even worse tried to text while driving (and who hasn’t), can testify to the fact that dial-driving is a bad idea. So, what can be done to get cars electronics, phones, and humans to play well together in a safe way? The solution has been summed up succinctly by the CEO of a major auto maker who refers to in-car control systems as being able to free the user from the tyrannies and dangers of messing with that little phone while you drive. Rather than a car and phone (and other electronics) being at odds with each other, the car is transforming into the newest electronic platform: one that is highly integrated, easy to use, and distinct from anything else to date. It is easy to see that the emerging alloyed car-plus-consumer platform is primed for cars to talk to one another without the need of human intervention.

The list of electronics functions in cars is evolving fast and will likely include multi-person gaming; GPS with location-based services such as real time traffic and road condition updates; vehicle monitoring for maintenance status, performance, and eco-friendliness; vehicle and personal security; connection to home control/security systems; social networking opportunities related to location, and especially safety. In fact, the US Deportment and Transportation (DoT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are partnering with research institutions and auto companies to collaborate on technology development and interoperability of V2V to promote traffic safety. V2V can transform the automotive experience more than anything since Henry Ford’s assembly line made cars available to the working class. The notion of a car driving itself still sounds like pure science fiction, but prototypes are already driving themselves. So, it is just a question of time before we have auto-automobiles. (auto2mobiles) where you simply have to tell your personal digital assistant where you want to go, then take a seat in your personal infotainment pod until you get there.

car-to-x_daimler

But, well before that happens we will see significant improvements in safety due to V2V. It is clear that the lucrative auto electronics platform is already right in the sights of all car makers, and they clearly plan to take it to the next level and the next level after that, with no end in sight.  As noted, electronic things sell cars, and more advanced electronics will show up in the more advanced cars. Then, last year’s advanced systems will naturally move down-market, so even more advanced systems will be needed for next year’s up-market cars. This endless cycle of innovation will drive automotive companies to create V2V and self-driving ecosystems sooner rather than later. As we move towards the self-driving omega-point we will see V2V and IoT showing up very early in the journey.

V2V (the IoT on wheels) will make it hard to tell where the car ends and the phone, tablet, computer, and sensors begin.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s automotive portfolio? Check out our automotive-qualified category breakdown below: