The automotive application space is currently under some of the most disruptive change that it has faced in its history. Not since the introduction of the car and the fight between steam, electricity and gasoline have there been so many technology and application challenges facing the industry. The German automotive industry is especially concerned, due to the significant role cars have in culture and the economy.
One of the associations involved with this debate is the Association of German Engineers (VDI), a professional association that supports, promotes and represents the interests of the electronic engineering design community. One of the industry-supporting activities of the group is the ELIV congress, a biannual event that recently took place in October 2019 in Bonn, Germany. Over 145 national and international exhibitors showcased innovative solutions to over 1,750 attendees.
Smart and Self-Driving Cars
There were quite a few EVs on the floor at the show, as would be expected. The pleasant surprise was that there was quite a variety of vehicle types on display. For example, Bosch showed off an electric Dallara Stradale, a beautiful barchetta without doors, customized in a roadster configuration with a rear wing (Figure 1). The charming aspect of the vehicle was that it had all of its primary performance characteristics boldly painted on it.
Figure 1 - Bosch showed off an electric Dallara Stradale with its primary performance characteristics boldly painted on it.
Focusing more on an intelligent platform than the complete vehicle, Bertrandt had a demonstrator based on an integrated system structure, with all of the associated interfaces and functions. Presented as an innovation platform for solutions relating to all aspects of automated, connected, and electric driving, the demonstrator also included concepts and solutions on human-machine interface, charging, vehicle software, V2X connectivity and ADAS validation.
Figure 2 - Bertrandt’s demonstrator is based on an integrated system structure, with all of the associated interfaces and functions.
Directly targeting shared-vehicle and rental applications, the Personalized Public Vehicle 1.0 at the FEV booth is only two-and-a-half meters long, but can seat three across, a useful number of people compared to equally-small two-seater EVs (Figure 3). With a range of 140 kilometers, the PPV1.0 is well-suited for urban car-sharing and local rentals. The vehicle is also planned to deploy in a self-driving configuration, enabling self-delivery.
Figure 3 - The Personalized Public Vehicle 1.0 is only two-and-a-half meters long but can seat three across.
Smart Vehicle Infrastructures
There are a lot of data moving in and around a car today, from the infotainment system in the dash to the Cloud-enabled functionality of wireless V2X capabilities. This swarm of data needs to be managed and distributed through the vehicle to the subsystems that need it. Inova Semiconductor was showing their APIX3 solution for Infotainment and Cockpit architectures (Figure 4). Supporting transmission at up to 6Gbps over one shielded twisted pair (STP) cable, and up to 12Gbps over a quad twisted pair (QTP) connection, the APIX3 supports HD and Ultra HD displays.
Figure 4 - Inova Semiconductor’s APIX3 serves Infotainment and Cockpit architectures.
APIX3 supports different cable media, such as STP, QTP, and coaxial, and provides scalable bandwidth, which means it can be used from entry-level to high-end systems. The device also enables the transmission of multiple video channels on one connection and supports 100 Mbps Ethernet and other serial interface protocols. Finally, APIX3 provides advanced diagnostic capabilities, including cable monitoring for preventive detection of cable degradation.
Targeting the long cable runs that need to be supported, Valens had their VA608A on display, which can support 4Gbps over a single wire, 8Gbps over two wires, and 16Gbps with two chipsets (Figure 5). Presented as the first chipset to enable up to 2.5Gb Ethernet over UTP. The device is optimized for telematics, smart antennas, 5G cellular connectivity, ECU-to-ECU connectivity, and shared storage in advanced EVs.
Figure 5 - The VA608A can support 4Gbps over a single wire, 8Gbps over two wires, and 16Gbps with two chipsets.
In another demonstration of vehicle data management, Infineon had an automotive gateway demonstrator on display based on their AURIX TC3x microcontroller (Figure 6). The device is also well-suited for safety-critical applications in autonomous and connected cars. From airbag, braking and power-steering to fail-operational systems supported by radar, LIDAR or camera technologies, the solution offers a high level of security for connected cars. The AURIX TC3x also offers enhanced security with a second-generation HSM with asymmetric cryptography accelerators and Full EVITA support.
Figure 6 - The AURIX TC3x microcontroller is also well-suited for safety-critical applications.
At the Maxim Integrated booth, they were showing a demo of daisy-chained displays using Gigabit Multimedia Serial Link (GMSL) technology (Figure 7). The serializer and deserializers (SerDes) are high-speed communication ICs that fully support the high bandwidth, complex interconnect, and data integrity requirements needed to support automotive infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Advanced link integrity and diagnostic capabilities enable enhanced performance monitoring, important in automotive safety systems. Using shielded twisted pair, or coax cables up to 15 meters, GMSL SerDes ICs meet the stringent electromagnetic compatibility requirements of the automotive industry.
Figure 7 - A group of daisy-chained displays using Gigabit Multimedia Serial Link (GMSL) technology.
Dialog Semiconductor had a demonstration in their booth showing their SmartBond family of integrated Bluetooth SoCs being used in a distance- and angle-sensing position solution (Figure 8). The devices enable the creation of environmental and/or motion sensing modules for wearable computing, immersive gaming, augmented reality, 3D indoor mapping and automotive systems.
Figure 8 - A position-sensing platform based on the SmartBond integrated Bluetooth SoC.
Automotive systems continue to grow in complexity and functionality, and proper integration and optimization of subsystems can make or break a vehicle design. Much of this development is in areas not directly involved with powertrain and mobility, but in infotainment, V2X and other peripheral functions to enhance the driving experience and increase vehicle safety. Proper device selection and integration will ensure that these added functionalities provide the maximum benefit.