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Archive for the ‘Automotive’ Category

May 31st, 2018

Why is 802.11ax a “must have” for the connected car?

By Avinash Ghirnikar, Director of Technical Marketing of Connectivity Business Group

Imagine motoring along through busy, urban traffic in your new connected car that is learning, getting smarter, safer and more reliable as it is driving. Such a car is constantly gathering and generating all kinds of data that is intermittently and opportunistically being uploaded to the cloud. As more cars on the road feature advanced wireless connectivity, this exciting future will become commonplace. However, each car will need to share the network with potentially hundreds of other cars that might be in its vicinity.

While such a use case could potentially rely on LTE/5G cellular technology, the costs associated with employing such a “licensed pipe” would be prohibitively expensive. In such situations, the new Wi-Fi® standard 802.11ax, also known as high efficiency wireless (HEW), will be a life saver for the automotive industry. The zettabytes of data that cars equipped with a slew of sensors will create in the years to come will all need to be uploaded to the cloud and data centers, enabling next-generation machine learning in order to make driving increasingly safe and predictable in the future. Uploading this data will, of course, need to be done both securely and reliably.

The car – as an 802.11ax station (STA) – will also be to able upload data to an 802.11ax access point (AP) in the most challenging of wireless environments while sharing the network with other clients. The 802.11ax system will be able to do this via technologies like MU-MIMO and OFDMA (allowing for spatial, frequency and time reuse) which are new innovations that are part of this emerging standard. Today, STAs compete rather than effectively share the network and have to deal with the dreaded “circle of death”’ awaiting connectivity. This is because today’s wireless standard can often be in an all-or-nothing binary mode of operation due to constant competition. When coupled with other upcoming standards like 802.11ai, specifically fast initial link setup (FILS), this vision of cars uploading data to the cloud over Wi-Fi becomes a true reality, even in environments where the car is moving and likely hopping from one AP to another.

While this “under the hood” upload use case is greatly enhanced by the 802.11ax standard from an infrastructure perspective, download of software and firmware into connected cars can also be transformed by this same standard. It is well known that the number of processors and electronic control units (ECUs) in car models is expected to increase dramatically. This, in turn, implies that the software/firmware content in these cars will likewise grow at exponential rates. Periodic firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates will be required and, therefore, having a reliable and robust mechanism to support this will be vital for automobile manufacturers – potentially saving them millions of dollars in relation to servicing costs, etc.  Such is the pace of innovation and technological change these days that this can sometimes happen almost immediately after cars come off the assembly line.

Take the example of a parking lot outside an auto plant containing hundreds of brand new cars requiring some of their software to be updated.  Here, too, 802.11ax can come to the rescue by making a mass update more efficient and reliable. This advantage will then carry forward for the rest of the lifespan of each car, since it can never be predicted what sort of wireless connectivity environment these cars will encounter. These could be challenging environments like garages, driveways, and maybe even parking decks. The modulation enhancements that 802.11ax delivers, coupled with MU-MIMO and OFDMA features, will ensure that the most efficient and reliable Wi-Fi pipe is always available for such a critical function. Given that a car can easily be on the road for close to a decade, having this functionality built in from day one would be a tremendous advantage and could enable significant cost savings. Again, accompanying technologies like Wake on Bluetooth® Low Energy and Bluetooth Low Energy Long Range will also play a pivotal role in ensuring this use case is realized from an overall end-to-end system standpoint.

These two infrastructure type use cases are likely to be tremendous value-adds for the connected car and can justify the presence of 802.11ax, especially from an automobile manufacturers’ point of view. Even consumers are likely to see significant benefits in their vehicle dashboards where the mobile APs in their infotainment systems will be able to seamlessly connect to their latest smartphone handsets (which will themselves be 802.11ax capable within the 2019 timeframe). Use cases like Wireless Apple CarPlay®, Wireless Android Auto™ Projection, rear seat entertainment, wireless cameras, etc. will all be a breeze given the additional 30-40% throughput enhancement in 802.11ax (and the backward compatibility this standard has with previous Wi-Fi standards for such use cases to cooperatively coexist).  Just as in homes, the number of Wi-Fi endpoints in cars is also proliferating. The 802.11ax standard is the only well-designed path for an increasing number of endpoints and yet provides the best user experience.

The 802.11ax as Release 1 (aka Wave 1) is well on its way to a concrete launch by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the second half of 2019. Products are already being sampled by silicon vendors – both on the AP and STA/mobile AP side – and interoperability testing is well underway. For all wireless system designers at OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers, the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard should be a goal, and especially for any product launch set for 2020 and beyond.  The time has come to begin future proofing for the impending arrival of 802.11ax infrastructure. The days of the wireless technology in your smartphone/home/enterprise and in your car belonging to different generations are long gone. Consumers demand that their cars now be an extension of their home/work environments and that all of these living spaces function as one. The 802.11ax is destined to be one of the key pillars of technology to make such a vision a reality.

Marvell has been a pioneer in designing Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo devices for the automotive market since the debut of such devices in cars in 2011. With actual development beginning almost a decade ago, Marvell’s automotive wireless portfolio has been honed to address key use cases over five generations of products, through working closely with OEMs, Tier 1s and Tier 2s. All the technologies needed to achieve the various use cases described above have been incorporated into Marvell’s fifth generation device. Coupled with Marvell’s offering for enterprise class, high-performance APs, Marvell remains committed to providing the automobile industry and car buyers with the best wireless connectivity experience — encompassing use cases inside and outside of the car today, and well into the future.

 

January 11th, 2018

Ethernet Set to Bring About Radical Shift in How Automotive Networks are Implemented

By Christopher Mash, Senior Director of Automotive Applications & Architecture, Marvell

The in-vehicle networks currently used in automobiles are based on a combination of several different data networking protocols, some of which have been in place for decades. There is the controller area network (CAN), which takes care of the powertrain and related functions; the local interconnect network (LIN), which is predominantly used for passenger/driver comfort purposes that are not time sensitive (such as climate control, ambient lighting, seat adjustment, etc.); the media oriented system transport (MOST), developed for infotainment; and FlexRay™ for anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic power steering (EPS) and vehicle stability functions.

As a result of using different protocols, gateways are needed to transfer data within the infrastructure. The resulting complexity is costly for car manufacturers. It also affects vehicle fuel economy, since the wire harnessing needed for each respective network adds extra weight to the vehicle. The wire harness represents the third heaviest element of the vehicle (after the engine and chassis) and the third most expensive, too. Furthermore, these gateways have latency issues, something that will impact safety-critical applications where rapid response is required.

The number of electronic control units (ECUs) incorporated into cars is continuously increasing, with luxury models now often having 150 or more ECUs, and even standard models are now approaching 80-90 ECUs. At the same time, data intensive applications are emerging to support advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) implementation, as we move toward greater levels of vehicle autonomy. All this is causing a significant ramp in data rates and overall bandwidth, with the increasing deployment of HD cameras and LiDAR technology on the horizon.

As a consequence, the entire approach in which in-vehicle networking is deployed needs to fundamentally change, first in terms of the topology used and, second, with regard to the underlying technology on which it relies.

Currently, the networking infrastructure found inside a car is a domain-based architecture. There are different domains for each key function – one for body control, one for infotainment, one for telematics, one for powertrain, and so on. Often these domains employ a mix of different network protocols (e.g., with CAN, LIN and others being involved).

As network complexity increases, it is now becoming clear to automotive engineers that this domain-based approach is becoming less and less efficient. Consequently, in the coming years, there will need to be a migration away from the current domain-based architecture to a zonal one.

A zonal arrangement means data from different traditional domains is connected to the same ECU, based on the location (zone) of that ECU in the vehicle. This arrangement will greatly reduce the wire harnessing required, thereby lowering weight and cost – which in turn will translate into better fuel efficiency. Ethernet technology will be pivotal in moving to zonal-based, in-vehicle networks.

In addition to the high data rates that Ethernet technology can support, Ethernet adheres to the universally-recognized OSI communication model. Ethernet is a stable, long-established and well-understood technology that has already seen widespread deployment in the data communication and industrial automation sectors. Unlike other in-vehicle networking protocols, Ethernet has a well-defined development roadmap that is targeting additional speed grades, whereas protocols – like CAN, LIN and others – are already reaching a stage where applications are starting to exceed their capabilities, with no clear upgrade path to alleviate the problem.

Future expectations are that Ethernet will form the foundation upon which all data transfer around the car will occur, providing a common protocol stack that reduces the need for gateways between different protocols (along with the hardware costs and the accompanying software overhead). The result will be a single homogeneous network throughout the vehicle in which all the protocols and data formats are consistent. It will mean that the in-vehicle network will be scalable, allowing functions that require higher speeds (10G for example) and ultra-low latency to be attended to, while also addressing the needs of lower speed functions. Ethernet PHYs will be selected according to the particular application and bandwidth demands – whether it is a 1Gbps device for transporting imaging sensing data, or one for 10Mbps operation, as required for the new class of low data rate sensors that will be used in autonomous driving.

Each Ethernet switch in a zonal architecture will be able to carry data for all the different domain activities. All the different data domains would be connected to local switches and the Ethernet backbone would then aggregate the data, resulting in a more effective use of the available resources and allowing different speeds to be supported, as required, while using the same core protocols. This homogenous network will provide ‘any data, anywhere’ in the car, supporting new applications through combining data from different domains available through the network.

Marvell is leading the way when it comes to the progression of Ethernet-based, in-vehicle networking and zonal architectures by launching, back in the summer of 2017, the AEC-Q100-compliant 88Q5050 secure Gigabit Ethernet switch for use in automobiles. This device not only deals with OSI Layers 1-2 (the physical layer and data layer) functions associated with standard Ethernet implementations, it also has functions located at OSI Layers 3,4 and beyond (the network layer, transport layer and higher), such as deep packet inspection (DPI). This, in combination with Trusted Boot functionality, provides automotive network architects with key features vital in ensuring network security.

January 10th, 2018

Moving the World’s Data

By Marvell, PR Team

The way in which data is moved via wireline and wireless connectivity is going through major transformations. The dynamics that are causing these changes are being seen across a broad cross section of different sectors.

Within our cars, the new features and functionality that are being incorporated mean that the traditional CAN and LIN based communication technology is no longer adequate. More advanced in-vehicle networking needs to be implemented which is capable of supporting multi-Gigabit data rates, in order to cope with the large quantities of data that high resolution cameras, more sophisticated infotainment, automotive radar and LiDAR will produce. With CAN, LIN and other automotive networking technologies not offering viable upgrade paths, it is clear that Ethernet will be the basis of future in-vehicle network infrastructure – offering the headroom needed as automobile design progresses towards the long term goal of fully autonomous vehicles. Marvell is already proving itself to be ahead of the game here, following the announcement of the industry’s first secure automotive gigabit Ethernet switch, which delivers the speeds now being required by today’s data-heavy automotive designs, while also ensuring secure operation is maintained and the threat of hacking or denial of service (DoS) attacks is mitigated.

Within the context of modern factories and processing facilities, the arrival of Industry 4.0 will allow greater levels of automation, through use of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. This communication can enable the access of data — data that is provided by a multitude of different sensor nodes distributed throughout the site. The ongoing in-depth analysis of this data is designed to ultimately bring improvements in efficiency and productivity for the modern factory environment. Ethernet capable of supporting Gigabit data rates has shown itself to be the prime candidate and it is already experiencing extensive implementation. Not only will this meet the speed and bandwidth requirements needed, but it also has the robustness that is mandatory in such settings (dealing with high temperatures, ESD strikes, exposure to vibrations, etc.) and the low latency characteristics that are essential for real-time control/analysis. Marvell has developed highly sophisticated Gigabit Ethernet transceivers with elevated performance that are targeted at such applications.

Within data centers things are changing too, but in this case the criteria involved are somewhat different. Here it is more about how to deal with the large volumes of data involved, while keeping the associated capital and operational expenses in check. Marvell has been championing a more cost effective and streamlined approach through its Prestera® PX Passive Intelligent Port Extender (PIPE) products. These present data center engineers with a modular approach to deploy network infrastructure that meets their specific requirements, rather than having to add further layers of complexity unnecessarily that will only serve to raise the cost and the power consumption. The result is a fully scalable, more economical and energy efficient solution.

In the wireless domain, there is ever greater pressure being placed upon WLAN hardware – in the home, office, municipal and retail environments. As well as increasing user densities and overall data capacity to contend with, network operators and service providers need to be able to address alterations that are now occurring in user behavior too. Wi-Fi connectivity is no longer just about downloading data, increasingly it will be the uploading of data that will be an important consideration. This will be needed for a range of different applications including augmented reality gaming, the sharing of HD video content and cloud-based creative activities. In order to address this, Wi-Fi technology will need to exhibit enhanced bandwidth capabilities on its uplink as well as its downlink.

The introduction of the much anticipated 802.11ax protocol is set to radically change how Wi-Fi is implemented. Not only will this allow far greater user densities to be supported (thereby meeting the coverage demands of places where large numbers of people are in need of Internet access, such as airports, sports stadia and concert venues), it also offers greater uplink/downlink data capacity – supporting multi-Gigabit operation in both directions. Marvell is looking to drive things forward via its portfolio of recently unveiled multi-Gigabit 802.11ax Wi-Fi system-on-chips (SoCs), which are the first in the industry to have orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and multi-user MIMO operation on both the downlink and the uplink.

Check out www.marvell.com to learn more about how Marvell is moving the world’s data.

January 10th, 2018

Marvell Demonstrates Edge Computing by Extending Google Cloud to the Network Edge with Pixeom Edge Platform at CES 2018

By Maen Suleiman, Senior Software Product Line Manager

The adoption of multi-gigabit networks and planned roll-out of next generation 5G networks will continue to create greater available network bandwidth as more and more computing and storage services get funneled to the cloud. Increasingly, applications running on IoT and mobile devices connected to the network are becoming more intelligent and compute-intensive. However, with so many resources being channeled to the cloud, there is strain on today’s networks.

Instead of following a conventional cloud centralized model, next generation architecture will require a much greater proportion of its intelligence to be distributed throughout the network infrastructure. High performance computing hardware (accompanied by the relevant software), will need to be located at the edge of the network. A distributed model of operation should provide the needed compute and security functionality required for edge devices, enable compelling real-time services and overcome inherent latency issues for applications like automotive, virtual reality and industrial computing. With these applications, analytics of high resolution video and audio content is also needed.

Through use of its high performance ARMADA® embedded processors, Marvell is able to demonstrate a highly effective solution that will facilitate edge computing implementation on the Marvell MACCHIATObin™ community board using the ARMADA 8040 system on chip (SoC). At CES® 2018, Marvell and Pixeom teams will be demonstrating a fully effective, but not costly, edge computing system using the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board in conjunction with the Pixeom Edge Platform to extend functionality of Google Cloud Platform™ services at the edge of the network. The Marvell MACCHIATObin community board will run Pixeom Edge Platform software that is able to extend the cloud capabilities by orchestrating and running Docker container-based micro-services on the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board.

Currently, the transmission of data-heavy, high resolution video content to the cloud for analysis purposes places a lot of strain on network infrastructure, proving to be both resource-intensive and also expensive. Using Marvell’s MACCHIATObin hardware as a basis, Pixeom will demonstrate its container-based edge computing solution which provides video analytics capabilities at the network edge. This unique combination of hardware and software provides a highly optimized and straightforward way to enable more processing and storage resources to be situated at the edge of the network. The technology can significantly increase operational efficiency levels and reduce latency.

The Marvell and Pixeom demonstration deploys Google TensorFlow™ micro-services at the network edge to enable a variety of different key functions, including object detection, facial recognition, text reading (for name badges, license plates, etc.) and intelligent notifications (for security/safety alerts). This technology encompasses the full scope of potential applications, covering everything from video surveillance and autonomous vehicles, right through to smart retail and artificial intelligence. Pixeom offers a complete edge computing solution, enabling cloud service providers to package, deploy, and orchestrate containerized applications at scale, running on premise “Edge IoT Cores.” To accelerate development, Cores come with built-in machine learning, FaaS, data processing, messaging, API management, analytics, offloading capabilities to Google Cloud, and more.

The MACCHIATObin community board is using Marvell’s ARMADA 8040 processor and has a 64-bit ARMv8 quad-core processor core (running at up to 2.0GHZ), and supports up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and a wide array of different I/Os. Through use of Linux® on the Marvell MACCHIATObin board, the multifaceted Pixeom Edge IoT platform can facilitate implementation of edge computing servers (or cloudlets) at the periphery of the cloud network. Marvell will be able to show the power of this popular hardware platform to run advanced machine learning, data processing, and IoT functions as part of Pixeom’s demo. The role-based access features of the Pixeom Edge IoT platform also mean that developers situated in different locations can collaborate with one another in order to create compelling edge computing implementations. Pixeom supplies all the edge computing support needed to allow Marvell embedded processors users to establish their own edge-based applications, thus offloading operations from the center of the network.

Marvell will also be demonstrating the compatibility of its technology with the Google Cloud platform, which enables the management and analysis of deployed edge computing resources at scale. Here, once again the MACCHIATObin board provides the hardware foundation needed by engineers, supplying them with all the processing, memory and connectivity required.

Those visiting Marvell’s suite at CES (Venetian, Level 3 – Murano 3304, 9th-12th January 2018, Las Vegas) will be able to see a series of different demonstrations of the MACCHIATObin community board running cloud workloads at the network edge. Make sure you come by!

October 20th, 2017

Long-Term Prospects for Ethernet in the Automotive Sector

By Tim Lau, Senior Director Automotive Product Management, Marvell

The automobile is encountering possibly the biggest changes in its technological progression since the invention of the internal combustion engine nearly 150 years ago. Increasing levels of autonomy will reshape how we think about cars and car travel. It won’t be just a matter of getting from point A to point B while doing very little else — we will be able to keep on doing what we want while in the process of getting there.

As it is, the modern car already incorporates large quantities of complex electronics – making sure the ride is comfortable, the engine runs smoothly and efficiently, and providing infotainment for the driver and passengers. In addition, the features and functionality being incorporated into vehicles we are now starting to buy are no longer of a fixed nature. It is increasingly common for engine control and infotainment systems to require updates over the course of the vehicle’s operational lifespan.

Such an update is the one issue that proved instrumental in first bringing Ethernet connectivity into the vehicle domain. Leading automotive brands, such as BMW and VW, found they could dramatically increase the speed of uploads performed by mechanics at service centers by installing small Ethernet networks into the chassis of their vehicle models instead of trying to use the established, but much slower, Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. As a result, transfer times were cut from hours to minutes.

As an increasing number of upgradeable Electronic Control Units (ECUs) have appeared (thereby putting greater strain on existing in-vehicle networking technology), the Ethernet network has itself expanded. In response, the semiconductor industry has developed solutions that have made the networking standard, which was initially developed for the relatively electrically clean environment of the office, much more robust and suitable for the stringent requirements of automobile manufacturers. The CAN and Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) buses have persisted as the main carriers of real-time information for in-vehicle electronics – although, now, they are beginning to fade as Ethernet evolves into a role as the primary network inside the car, being used for both real-time communications and updating tasks.

In an environment where implementation of weight savings are crucial to improving fuel economy, the ability to have communications run over a single network (especially one that needs just a pair of relatively light copper cables) is a huge operational advantage. In addition, a small connector footprint is vital in the context of increasing deployment of sensors (such as cameras, radar and LiDAR transceivers), which are now being mounted all around the car for driver assistance/semi-autonomous driving purposes. This is supported by the adoption of unshielded, twisted-pair cabling.

Image sensing, radar and LiDAR functions will all produce copious amounts of data. So data-transfer capacity is going to be a critical element of in-vehicle Ethernet networks, now and into the future. The industry has responded quickly by first delivering 100 Mbit/s transceivers and following up with more capacious standards-compliant 1000 Mbit/s offerings.

But providing more bandwidth is simply not enough on its own. So that car manufacturers do not need to sacrifice the real-time behavior necessary for reliable control, the relevant international standards committees have developed protocols to guarantee the timely delivery of data. Time Sensitive Networking (TNS) provides applications with the ability to use reserved bandwidth on virtual channels in order to ensure delivery within a predictable timeframe. Less important traffic can make use of the best-effort service of conventional Ethernet with the remaining unreserved bandwidth.

The industry’s more forward-thinking semiconductor vendors, Marvell among them, have further enhanced real-time performance with features such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), employing Ternary Content-Addressable Memory (TCAM), in their automotive-optimized Ethernet switches. The DPI mechanism makes it possible for hardware to look deep into each packet as it arrives at a switch input and instantly decide exactly how the message should be handled. The packet inspection supports real-time debugging processes by trapping messages of a certain type, and markedly reduces application latency experienced within the deployment by avoiding processor intervention.

Support from remote management frames is another significant protocol innovation in automotive Ethernet. These frames make it possible for a system controller to control the switch state directly. For example, a system controller can automatically power down I/O ports when they are not needed – a feature that preserves precious battery life.

The result of these adaptations to the core Ethernet standard, as well as the increased resilience it now delivers, is the emergence of an expansive feature set that is well positioned for the ongoing transformation of the car, taking it from just being a mode of transportation into the data-rich, autonomous mobile platform it is envisaged to become in the future.

 

 

August 2nd, 2017

Wireless Technology Set to Enable an Automotive Revolution

By Avinash Ghirnikar, Director of Technical Marketing of Connectivity Business Group

The automotive industry has always been a keen user of wireless technology. In the early 1980s, Renault made it possible to lock and unlock the doors on its Fuego model utilizing a radio transmitter. Within a decade, other vehicle manufacturers embraced the idea of remote key-less entry and not long after that it became a standard feature. Now, wireless technology is about to reshape the world of driving.

The first key-less entry systems were based on infra-red (IR) signals, borrowing the technique from automatic garage door openers. But the industry swiftly moved to RF technology, in order to make it easier to use. Although each manufacturer favored its own protocol and coding system, they adopted standard low-power RF frequency bands, such as 315 MHz in the US and 433 MHz in Europe. As concerns about theft emerged, they incorporated encryption and other security features to fend off potential attacks. They have further refreshed this technology as new threats appeared, as well as adding features such as proximity detection to remove the need to even press the key-fob remote’s button.

The next stage in favor of convenience was to employ Bluetooth instead of custom radios on the sub-1GHz frequency band so as to dispense with the keyfob altogether. With Bluetooth, an app on the user’s smartphone can not only unlock the car doors, but also handle tasks such as starting the heater or air-conditioning to make the vehicle comfortable ready for when the driver and passengers actually get in.

Bluetooth itself has become a key feature on many models over the past decade as automobile manufacturers have looked to open up their infotainment systems. Access to the functions located on dashboard through Bluetooth has made it possible for vehicle occupants to hook up their phone handsets easily. Initially, it was to support legal phone calls through hands-free operation without forcing the owner to buy and install a permanent phone in the vehicle itself. But the wireless connection is just as good at relaying high-quality audio so that the passengers can listen to their favorite music (stored on portable devices). We have clearly move a long way from the CD auto-changer located in the trunk.

Bluetooth is a prime example of the way in which RF technology, once in place, can support many different applications – with plenty of potential for use cases that have not yet been considered. Through use of a suitable relay device in the car, Bluetooth also provides the means by which to send vehicle diagnostics information to relevant smartphone apps. The use of the technology for diagnostics gateway points to an emerging use for Bluetooth in improving the overall safety of car transportation.

But now Wi-Fi is also primed to become as ubiquitous in vehicles as Bluetooth. Wi-Fi is able to provide a more robust data pipe, thus enabling even richer applications and a tighter integration with smartphone handsets. One use case that seems destined to change the cockpit experience for users is the emergence of screen projection technologies. Through the introduction of such mechanisms it will be possible to create a seamless transition for drivers from their smartphones to their cars. This will not necessarily even need to be their own car, it could be any car that they may rent from anywhere in the world.

One of the key enabling technologies for self-driving vehicles is communication. This can encompass vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) links, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) messages and, through technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, vehicle-to-anything (V2X).

V2V provides the ability for vehicles on the road to signal their intentions to others and warn of hazards ahead. If a pothole opens up or cars have to break suddenly to avoid an obstacle, they can send out wireless messages to nearby vehicles to let them know about the situation. Those other vehicles can then slow down or change lane accordingly.

The key enabling technology for V2V is a form of the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi protocol, re-engineered for much lower latency and better reliability. IEEE 802.11p Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) operates in the 5.9 GHz region of the RF spectrum, and is capable of supporting data rates of up to 27 Mbit/s. One of the key additions for transportation is scheduling feature that let vehicles share access to wireless channels based on time. Each vehicle uses the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) reading, usually provided by the GPS receiver, to help ensure all nearby transceivers are synchronised to the same schedule.

A key challenge for any transceiver is the Doppler Effect. On a freeway, the relative velocity of an approaching transmitter can exceed 150 mph. Such a transmitter may be in range for only a few seconds at most, making ultra-low latency crucial. But, with the underlying RF technology for V2V in place, advanced navigation applications can be deployed relatively easily and extended to deal with many other objects and even people.

V2I transactions make it possible for roadside controllers to update vehicles on their status. Traffic signals, for example, can let vehicles know when they are likely to change state. Vehicles leaving the junction can relay that data to approaching cars, which may slow down in response. By slowing down, they avoid the need to stop at a red signal – and thereby cross just as it is turning to green. The overall effect is a significant saving in fuel, as well as less wear and tear on the brakes. In the future, such wireless-enabled signals will make it possible improve the flow of autonomous vehicles considerably. The traffic signals will monitor the junction to check whether conditions are safe and usher the autonomous vehicle through to the other side, while other road users without the same level of computer control are held at a stop.

Although many V2X applications were conceived for use with a dedicated RF protocol, such as WAVE for example, there is a place for Bluetooth and, potentially, other wireless standards like conventional Wi-Fi. Pedestrians and cyclists may signal their presence on the road with the help of their own Bluetooth devices. The messages picked up by passing vehicles can be relayed using V2V communications over WAVE to extend the range of the warnings. Roadside beacons using Bluetooth technology can pass on information about local points of interest – and this can be provide to passengers who can subsequently look up more details on the Internet using the vehicle’s built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

One thing seems to be clear, the world of automotive design will be a heterogeneous RF environment that takes traditional Wi-Fi technology and brings it together with WAVE, Bluetooth and GPS. It clearly makes sense to incorporate the right set of radios together onto one single chipset, which will thereby ease the integration process, and also ensure optimal performance is achieved. This will not only be beneficial in terms of the design of new vehicles, but will also facilitate the introduction of aftermarket V2X modules. In this way, existing cars will be able to participate in the emerging information-rich superhighway.

August 1st, 2017

Connectivity Will Drive the Cars of the Future

By Avinash Ghirnikar, Director of Technical Marketing of Connectivity Business Group

The growth of electronics content inside the automobile has already had a dramatic effect on the way in which vehicle models are designed and built. As a direct consequence of this, the biggest technical change is now beginning to happen – one that overturns the traditional relationship between the car manufacturer and the car owner.

With many subsystems now controlled by microprocessors running software, it is now possible to alter the behavior of the vehicle with an update and introduce completely new features and functionality by merely updating software. The high profile Tesla brand of high performance electric vehicles has been one of the companies pioneering this approach by releasing software and firmware updates that give existing models the ability to drive themselves. Instead of buying a car with a specific, fixed set of features, vehicles are being upgraded via firmware over the air (FOTA) without the need to visit a dealership.

Faced with so many electronic subsystems now in the vehicle, high data rates are essential. Without the ability to download and program devices quickly, the car could potentially become unusable for hours at a time. On the wireless side, this is requiring 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds and very soon this will be ramped up to 802.11ax speeds that can potentially exceed Gigabit/second data rates.

Automotive Ethernet that can support Gigabit speeds is also now being fitted so that updates can be delivered as fast as possible to the many electronic control units (ECUs) around the car. The same Ethernet backbone is proving just as essential for day-to-day use. The network provides high resolution, real-time data from cameras, LiDAR, radar, tire pressure monitors and various other sensors fitted around the body, each of which is likely to have their own dedicated microprocessor. The result is a high performance computer based on distributed intelligence. And this, in turn, can tap into the distributed intelligence now being deployed in the cloud.

The beauty of distributed intelligence is that it is an architecture that can support applications that in many cases have not even been thought of yet. The same wireless communication networks that provide the over-the-air updates can relay real-time information on traffic patterns in the vicinity, weather data, disruptions due to accidents and many other pieces of data that the onboard computers can then use to plan the journey and make it safer. This rapid shift towards high speed intra- and inter-vehicle connectivity, and the vehicle-to-anything (V2X) communication capabilities that have thus resulted will enable applications to be benefitted from that would have been considered pure fantasy just a few years ago,

The V2X connectivity can stop traffic lights from being an apparent obstacle and turn them into devices that provide the vehicle with hints to save fuel. If the lights send out signals on their stop-go cycle approaching vehicles can use them to determine whether it is better to decelerate and arrive just in time for them to turn green instead of braking all the way to a stop. Sensors at the junction can also warn of hazards that the car then flags up to the driver. When the vehicle is able to run autonomously, it can take care of such actions itself. Similarly, cars can report to each other when they are planning to change lanes in order to leave the freeway, or when they see a slow-moving vehicle ahead and need to decelerate. The result is considerably smoother braking patterns that avoid the logjam effect we so often see on today’s crowded roads. The enablement of such applications will require multiple radios in the vehicle, which will need to work cooperatively in a fail-safe manner.

Such connectivity will also give OEMs unprecedented access to real-time diagnostic data, which a car could be uploading opportunistically to the cloud for analysis purposes. This will provide information that could lead to customized maintenance services that could be planned in advance, thereby cutting down diagnostic time at the workshop and meaning that technical problems are preemptively dealt with, rather than waiting for them to become more serious over time.

There is no need for automobile manufacturers to build any of these features into their vehicle models today. As many computations can be offloaded to servers in the cloud, the key to unlocking advanced functionality is not wholly dependent on what is present in the car itself. The fundamental requirement is access to an effective means of communications, and that is available right now through high speed Ethernet within the vehicle plus Wi-Fi and V2X-compatible wireless for transfers going beyond the chassis. Both can be supplied so that they are compliant with the AEC-Q100 automotive standard – thus ensuring quality and reliability. With those tools in place, we don’t need to see all the way ahead to the future. We just know we have the capability to get there.