Car Electronics 2012

The Year of The EV article tells that We can dub 2011 the year of the EV (electric vehicles) and gives a timeline what happened 2011. The end result is that today there are enough Volts on the road (along with competitors like Nissan’s Leaf, various hybrids, and an electric Ford Focus) that it might be safe to suggest that the electric car is here to stay.

There has been many different car charging connectors in use on electronic vehicles. Electric Car Charging Standards Split article tells that many car manufacturers have agreed on a single EV charging port connector standard that has been in development by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for several years. European car companies have been divided on standards for both AC and DC charging. The new single connector will support fast DC charging as well as be backward compatible with the J1772 AC charger that is standard on many plug-in electric vehicles today. I think that use of that standard will rise in 2012, and common charging standard will speed up the EV deployment.


Automotive electronics: What’s hot in 2012 article tells that in automotive electronics, 2012 looks to be a year of consolidation as technologies introduced previously become more widespread across model lines. In particular, voice recognition, with different features and interfaces, is seen as a way of distinguishing one brand from another, while electrified power trains in the form of hybrids and pure electric drives will be available in more models. In keep costs down driven auto industry the more mature the technology that goes into a car, the less risk of failure and costly warranty claims.

Cars and smartphones start to communicate using MirrorLink technology to allow new features. MirrorLink™ has been developed with the objective to provide a technology, offering seamless (extremely simple from the consumer perspective) connectivity between a smart phone and the in-vehicle infotainment system. It uses IP technologies in order to be independent of the physical transport mechanism and supports many car connectivity solutions (Bluetooth, WLAN, USB etc.). Whereas MirrorLink™ does allow any legacy application on the mobile device to show-up on the car display, it specifically enables easy development of mobile device based automotive applications.

Ethernet for Vehicles is gaining momentum in in the car. Ethernet for Vehicles Advances article tells that Ethernet technology in the car (a concept that was once unthinkable for the automotive industry) has been gaining momentum lately. Special interest group, known as the OPEN (One-Pair-Ether-Net) SIG, is aimed at driving broad-scale adoption of Ethernet in vehicles, largely to serve the expected boom of camera-based applications in cars. Many vehicles now have backup cameras, and many others are going to add cameras for such applications as lanekeeping, adaptive cruise control, and collision avoidance.

There is going to be an increasing number of Driver Information applications that involve displaying complex images and graphics. Xilinx Paves the Way for a New Generation of Automotive Driver Assistance and Infotainment Systems at CES 2012. World’s first Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) based Ethernet Audio/Video Bridging (EAVB) network implementation optimized for carrying high-speed data traffic within the automobile was shown at CES 2012. The IEEE 802.1 EAVB standard is already gaining the attention of a number of leading automotive manufacturers even though the specifications are still being finalized. OMG! Amazing home displays and automotive Ethernet AVB stuff from Xilinx article gives some more details what is expected in near future.


New electronics features are making challenges for developers. Automotive Electronics: Do We Really Need All This Stuff? article tells that everyone in the auto industry knows that the number of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles is nearing the point of unmanageability. Low-end vehicles now incorporate between 35 and 40 ECUs, while luxury cars may have 80 or more. “We’re right up against the limit right now. We need to find unique ways to integrate features and functions, and give our customers what they want without overloading our controllers.” The number of automotive features and functions keeps rising.

Would Cellphone Ban Secure Car Safety? article tells that the proliferation of in-car entertainment technologies (internet routers, smartphone links, MP3 connections, capacitive touch screens, etc.) are great for selling cars. Auto executives understand what consumers want: Many people don’t want a car with no extra features. Those new extra features have also sparked a serious debate about driver distraction dangers. “According to NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents.” “You’re dealing with human nature here. People want what they want. And sometimes they want more than they should have.”


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:
    New York Post:
    NYC has 14K cars affiliated with Uber, outnumbering 13.5K medallion cabs, 4 years after launch
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Aaron M. Kessler / New York Times:
    Tesla’s self-driving cars coming to US within 3 months, with autopilot enabled only on major roads; regulatory questions remain

    Elon Musk Says Self-Driving Tesla Cars Will Be in the U.S. by Summer

    on Thursday, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, took a big step in that direction when he announced that the maker of high-end electric cars would introduce autonomous technology by this summer. The technology would allow drivers to have their cars take control on what he called “major roads” like highways.

    Mr. Musk said that a software update — not a repair performed by a mechanic — would give Tesla’s Model S sedans the ability to start driving themselves, at least part of the time, in a hands-free mode that the company refers to as autopilot.

    But some industry experts said serious questions remain about whether such autonomous driving is actually legal and are skeptical that Model S owners who try to use autopilot would not run afoul of current regulations.

    “There’s a reason other automakers haven’t gone there,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “Best case scenario, it’s unclear. If you’re an individual that starts doing it, you’d better hope nothing goes wrong.”

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ellen Huet / Forbes:
    Newly merged Kuaidi-Didi reportedly controls 99% of Chinese taxi-hailing market, claims 6M rides per day, putting Uber’s future in China at risk
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Crowd sourcing speeds image classification development

    One of the major challenges in building automated supervised image classification systems is the amount of training data that needs to be correctly identified. In such systems, hundreds or thousands of correctly labeled images need to be presented to the system since more labeled data will result in a system more effective than one where just a few data is presented to the classifier

    “In the development of an obstacle avoidance system for an automotive manufacturer,” says Dr. Daniel Kondermann, President of Pallas Ludens (Mannheim, Germany;, “hundreds of thousands of images such as automobiles, pedestrians, trees, and other obstacles need to be properly identified at multiple scales.” Similarly, to build such a system to identify brain tumors in MRI images, a physician must isolate the relevant pixel regions in multiple images. Although global segmentation algorithms may be used to perform this task,” says Kondermann, the results of these algorithms may be ambiguous and not as accurate as those performed by an expensive human operator.”

    Realizing this, Pallas Ludens has developed an elegant way to solve the task of rapid image classification development. Instead of requiring a single trained professional to identify multiple images or objects within images, the company has leveraged the power of crowd sourcing to complete the task

    “Companies in the medical, automotive and entertainment industries require classification systems that must be as accurate as possible,”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Opel headlights gaze following

    GPS fix has already been developed on the basis of the headlights, which are able to anticipate the bends. German Opel goes far beyond this. Its new head light technology following on the driver’s eye movements. The technique has worked for several years.

    Originally, it was a simple webcam, which was followed by the nose and the eye position and concluded that they were based on the gaze direction. This was a promising technology, but Opel failed to develop a system that would process the process data fast enough.

    The development team began instead to improve your eye movements, the following algorithms. Now the camera is able to check the position of the eye in dark and low-light 50 times per second.

    The data processing is now almost in real time.

    Opel, the technology is still one problem: human eye uncontrolled movement, which in practice it “bounces” back and forth all the time.


  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Will technology help us escape urban commuting hell?

    Fed up of endless traffic jams and overcrowded trains? Then how about commuting to work in your own jetpack?

    New Zealand firm Martin Aircraft Company is building a one-person jetpack scheduled to go on sale in 2016. And it actually seems to work.

    Although currently slated for use by emergency services, it is only a small leap to imagine it in the hands of commuters.

    Meanwhile cities’ populations are expanding rapidly, and congestion, pollution and travel stress look likely to rise in tandem, unless we seriously reform our creaking urban transport systems.

    Some cities are investing in big infrastructure projects, such as London’s Crossrail, while others see the future lying with greener transport alternatives, like electric buses or bike-sharing schemes.

    Copenhagen’s e-bikes have tablet computers installed between the handlebars with onboard GPS navigation. Users can book and pay for the bikes via their smartphones.

    In other cities around the world, authorities are rolling out fleets of electric buses and trialling wireless charging, where buses drive onto special platforms to be charged when in the depot.

    In the UK, the Carbon Trust believes that by 2050 up to half of the country’s light duty vehicles could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with water as the only waste product.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How can I switch off GPS in my rented car?
    The controversial Hertz NeverLost syste mcannot be switched off, disconnected or removed, says Rick Maybury

    I have just returned from a family holiday to the US and we rented a mid-size car for the duration. Although I declined the GPS option, I prefer to use my own, a unit was fitted in the car. The rental car assistant was adamant that all cars had them now, and I only had to pay for it if I used it. It turned out be an absolute pest and even though I switched it off, it came back on every time I started the engine with an annoying jungle.

    This would be the controversial Hertz NeverLost system, an increasingly common sight in US rental cars, and not just from Hertz. Some recent NeverLost terminals do indeed have built-in cameras, pointing at the vehicle cabin and apparently it will only be used for video chats with rental company reps, should you seek assistance. They can also be used to track the user’s whereabouts, locate stolen vehicles, monitor speed and driving technique as well as doing quite useful things like navigating and route planning. You cannot switch it off, disconnect or remove the unit though, but it seems unlikely that the camera (and microphone) are constantly monitored or recorded and this would be potentially illegal in some States. If you are concerned about privacy the device’s eyes and ears are easily neutralised with some strategically placed sticky tape or chewing gum.

    Hertz installs cameras and microphones in rental cars
    Technically Incorrect: Some of Hertz’s NeverLost systems now have cameras and mics — which the company claims it doesn’t intend to use at this time.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ford: Our latest car gizmo will starve you of fuel if you’re speeding
    Fighting automatic regulation with automatic adherence

    Ford has announced a new intelligent speed limiter system which reads traffic signs and reduces fuel flow to keep your vehicle within the speed limit.

    As much as the petrolhead lobby decries the direct correlation the road safety brigade makes between speed and safety, current legislation means that if you’re driving too fast, regardless of how safely, you’ll usually get fined.

    While a traffic officer can make a judgment call, ticket-bots won’t be quite so lenient. Now the Ford tech is fighting automatic regulation with automatic adherence.

    The Intelligent Speed Limiter combines current Ford technologies: the Adjustable Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition, which are both already available on models including the Focus, Mondeo, and Kuga SUV.

    At speeds of between 20mph and 120mph the system smoothly decelerates by restricting the fuel supplied to the engine, rather than applying the brakes. Should travelling downhill cause the vehicle to exceed the legislated speed an alarm is sounded.

    Drivers can temporarily override the system by firmly depressing the accelerator pedal.

    Ford’s New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding

    An anonymous reader sends word of Ford’s new “Intelligent Speed Limiter” technology, which they say will prevent drivers from unintentionally exceeding the speed limit. When the system is activated (voluntarily) by the driver, it asks for a current maximum speed. From then on, a camera mounted on the windshield will scan the road ahead for speed signs, and automatically adjust the maximum speed to match them.

    Could this spell the end for speeding tickets?

    Breaking the speed limit is not something we always do on purpose. All the same, it can be costly in terms of fines, and driving bans, as well as playing a significant role in many road accidents.

    In the U.K. alone, in 2013, more than 15,000 drivers received fines of £100 or more for speeding.

    We are now launching Intelligent Speed Limiter, a technology that could help prevent drivers from unintentionally exceeding speed limits.

    The system monitors road signs with a camera mounted on the windscreen, and slows the vehicle as required. As the speed limit rises, the system allows the driver to accelerate up to the set speed – providing it does not exceed the new limit.

    “Drivers are not always conscious of speeding and sometimes only becoming aware they were going too fast when they receive a fine in the mail or are pulled over by law enforcement,” said Stefan Kappes, active safety supervisor, Ford of Europe. “Intelligent Speed Limiter can remove one of the stresses of driving, helping ensure customers remain within the legal speed limit.”

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A $60 Gadget That Makes Car Hacking Far Easier

    The average automobile today isn’t necessarily secured against hackers, so much as obscured from them: Digitally controlling a car’s electronics remains an arcane, specialized skill among security researchers. But that’s changing fast. And soon, it could take as little as $60 and a laptop to begin messing around with a car’s digital innards.

    Tomorrow at the Black Hat Asia security conference in Singapore, 24-year-old Eric Evenchick plans to present a new device he calls the CANtact. The open source board, which he hopes to sell for between $60 and $100, connects on one end to a computer’s USB port, and on the other to a car or truck’s OBD2 port, a network port under its dashboard. That makes the CANtact a cheap interface between any PC and a vehicle’s controller area network or CAN bus, the collection of connected computers inside of every modern automobile that control everything from its windows to its brakes.

    With just that go-between gadget and the open source software that Evenchick is releasing for free, he hopes to make car hacking a far cheaper and more automated process for amateurs.

    it’s meant to foster hobbyist car hacking and security research that can expose and help fix a car’s vulnerabilities.

    The average coder isn’t familiar with the protocol most cars’ computers rely on to communicate. But Evenchick has written open source software for CANtact that automates much of the manual work of CAN bus hacking.

    The CANtact, of course, can only test security exploits that require physical access, not remote attacks on a car’s network.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    France Is Letting 14-Year-Olds Drive This Tiny Electric Car

    Being 14 sucks.

    Unless, that is, you live in France. Then you just need to beg your parents to buy you a Renault Twizy, a $7,600 “car” that 14-year-olds can now legally drive.

    The Twizy is a quadricycle, a 1,000-pound, two-seat electric car meant for zipping around cramped European cities. It’s designed to be a safer alternative to bicycles and scooters for the urban set, sporting a 13-horsepower electric motor and enough batteries to take you 60 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph. It won’t hold much cargo

    The Twizy has airbags, seat belts, two seats, headlights, turn signals—all those things that actual cars have. And, thanks to new legislation in France, youths as young as 14 can now drive the things legally.

    Previously, 14-year olds in France with a road safety certificate (sort of a lightweight-version of a driver’s license) could only ride mopeds. Now, in order to comply with EU regulations, that same certificate now allows holders to drive “quadricycles”.

    As regulated, quadricycles are four-wheeled cars that can’t exceed 28 mph, can’t have a battery pack bigger than 4 kWh (for electric engines, traditional gas and diesel versions can’t have an engine bigger than 50cc), and can’t exceed 770 pounds curb weight.

    Renault says it’s sold some 15,000 Twizys in Europe since launching the thing half a decade ago, and we would love to see the automaker jump the pond and let American teens, or adults, climb in.

    Renault has a strategic partnership with Nissan

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    David Ruddock / Android Police:
    Hands on with Hyundai’s BlueLink car companion app for Android Wear: requires paid subscription and cumbersome PIN, voice commands offer limited functionality

    Can A Smartwatch Make Your Car Smarter? A Week With Hyundai’s BlueLink For Android Wear

    If you own a reasonably modern car (say, within two or three years old), there’s a significant chance that car has some kind of cellular connectivity embedded in it, and this allows the car to do stuff remotely. Like, start. Or unlock the doors. Or lock them. Or honk the horn. These things have names… like mbrace (Mercedes), AcuraLink, Enform (Lexus), OnStar (GM), MyLincoln, and so on.

    Hyundai’s version, BlueLink, isn’t the most fully-featured of the bunch, to be honest. But, as one of the first and arguably most enthusiastic Android Auto partners, Hyundai’s shown an interest in Android that few automakers have, as evidenced by the fact that BlueLink now has an app for Android Wear. The Wear app does what you’d expect – lock, unlock, remote start, stop, flash lights, honk horn, call roadside assistance, or dial BlueLink. Hyundai is the first auto manufacturer to officially embrace Android Wear, and it’s not difficult to see why – a smartwatch makes a pretty ideal replacement for a lot of key fob functions, in theory. But can it actually replace one yet?

    For now, the answer is no (not that Hyundai claims otherwise). Partly because you obviously still need the key fob to drive the car, and partly because the experience using Wear right now is just not there yet (also battery life duh). But it’s exciting to see where Hyundai (and likely other automakers) will take this concept as it refines and hones the experience and adds features.

    My first day experimenting with BlueLink, I decided I would get the car cooled off before I actually got inside.

    So, how easy is it to send this command? Well, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not as easy as most of us would want it to be in an ideal world.

    First, you have to activate BlueLink on Wear.
    There is no way to voice-ignite your car in a single step.
    Part of the problem here is Wear. Wear doesn’t support custom voice commands yet, and Hyundai would, according to them, add such a thing if Wear allowed it (ie, “OK, Google – start my car”).

    I realize it terrifies insurers, but storing an authenticator token on the watch that lets you skip the PIN would be worth any small risk that might present. After all, while I can understand losing your smartphone and thus wanting PIN entry on that end, you’re unlikely to have both your watch and phone stolen, but not the car keys, and have a thief savvy enough to understand the watch can unlock the car without a code. A watch is usually pretty safe on your wrist, and the watch also doesn’t even work without the phone, so it has secondary authentication already.

    As for use cases, purposes for remote locking and unlocking are there, but obviously they’re mostly backup measures.

    I personally had no problems getting BlueLink to work – just know that when you activate remote ignition, all other remote features are disabled until you then un-start the car

    Spending a bit of time with the service, though, I wasn’t convinced I’d personally want to pay for it. And yes, Hyundai charges a subscription fee for BlueLink, with cost varying on the subscription type (almost all OEMs that have these systems do charge for service on them, by the way), but the cheapest way to do it would be $450 for a 3-year plan (which comes out around $12.50 a month). Sure, you can tack this kind of stuff onto your car payment, but it’s still your money, and you still have to ask if it’s worth it.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Driverless cars in the UK: Are we nearly there yet?
    £100m Budget boost speeds up self-driving cars, but public trust still in the slow lane

    DRIVERLESS CARS HAD A BOOST IN THE UK BUDGET last week with a £100m investment from the national coffers, but there are still many obstacles to overcome.

    Chancellor George Osborne promised to match business investment to the tune of £100m, and suggested that this would keep the UK “ahead” of the competition.

    “We’re going to back our brilliant automotive industry by investing £100m to stay ahead in the race to driverless technology,” he said during his Budget speech.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Magnetic Sensors with Integrated Diagnostics for ASIL Compliance

    This technical article presents the magnetic sensor integrated circuits (ICs) that provides diagnostics for automotive safety integrity level (ASIL) compliance. The current revolution in intelligent vehicle control systems relies substantially on the rapidly developing physical detection technology called magnetic sensor integrated circuits (ICs). The complexity, reliability, flexibility, and functionality of these non-contacting, magnetic sensor ICs have all but dispelled the need for electromechanical switches in just about every application in latest generation automobiles. Yet, accompanying this increase in usage of complex electronic devices, is a heightened concern over difficult-to-detect, system-level risks. This, in turn, has led the automotive industry to focus on automotive functional safety. The ISO 26262 functional safety standard outlines a development process, including predictive analysis to minimize risk. This process, in turn, requires advanced diagnostics capabilities integrated directly into magnetic sensor IC systems. An examination is made of a new type of magnetic sensor IC that implements integrated diagnostics, using an innovative embedded solid state coil for end to end system test.

    Open the door of any recent-model automobile and you are immediately surrounded by an invisible network of electronic sensors. They detect seat belt buckling, window or sunroof pinching, gear shifter position, engine transmission rotational speed and direction, and camshaft position, to name only a few applications. The penetration of real time sensing into these applications has been made practical by developments in various types of non-contacting magnetic detectors (i.e. Hall effect, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR), Anisotropic resistive (AMR)). In addition to having very small form factors, these state-of-the-art, solid-state, semiconductor ICs are cost effective, power efficient, non-contacting, and gather a pervasive data stream in the harshest environment of vehicle engines with the subtlety to respond to the slightest of changes in vehicle conditions.

    ICs can provide suboptimal outputs, so automotive use requires additional safety measures to avoid unreasonable residual risk according to Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL), ISO 26262.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Helping Tokyo Olympics Tech Drive Succeed

    Japan is faced with challenges that ADAS intends to solve — safer driving.

    What do Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics Games have in common? They can both help further the deployment of ADAS technologies.

    When a city hosts the Olympic Games it is immediately faced with the challenge of dealing with a significant increase in visitors that need to move from one place to another in a very safe and secure manner. This is no different for Tokyo, one of the largest and most densely populated areas in the world.

    For example, a recent study in Japan showed that the number of accidents involving aged people is stable, while that involving younger people has decreased. The Japanese government has strongly highlighted the push towards safer driving technologies as part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics timeline.

    From a business perspective, the upcoming Olympics will provide a perfect venue to showcase ADAS technologies from Japanese car makers.

    One facet of safer driving in the future is autonomous driving.

    But the path to autonomous driving is still a long one from a technical, legal and business perspective.

    We will skip the legal aspects for now and focus on the technical aspects. From a technology standpoint, the development of ADAS will require sensors and software to interpret all sensor data, software and hardware to control the direction and speed of the car, and algorithms and software to implement a skilled driver.

    These technology challenges, although complex, are solvable with the use of the right tools and methodologies that will enable companies to design the right architecture and start system software development, integration and test earlier.

    From a business perspective, automotive companies must deliver these functions at costs that will be acceptable to the consumer and scalability from entry level to high-end vehicles. Development costs, scalability of expected functionality, performance requirements, power management and efficient testing for ISO 26262 will be some of the key development concerns.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Faster CAN bus becoming more common in cars

    While many manufacturers are already introducing cars Ethernet, CAN-bus is still clearly the most popular bus technology.

    Microchip has introduced a new standard FD CAN (Controller Area Network Flexible Data Rate) supporting IC family. The standard, as well as to increase the link speed that the data width of the previous 8 byte 64 bytes. In practice, the CAN FD can, if necessary, increase the bus speed from one to eight megabits per second. Microchip circuits are backwards compatible with the old CAN protocol.


    Product link:

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Voltage Translation for Automotive Systems

    In today’s automotive electronics systems, microcontrollers and peripherals operate off different voltage supplies. This is driven by an effort to reduce power consumption. However, as microcontroller voltages drop, many peripherals continue to need higher voltages. This creates a situation of voltage incompatibility.

    For two devices to interface reliably, the output driver voltages must be compatible with receiver input thresholds. For this condition to be met in mixed voltage systems, a voltage translator is often required. Typically, voltage translation has been done using logic ICs and sometimes several discrete components. This increases board size, component count, and assembly cost.

    TI automotive products include a comprehensive voltage translation portfolio including buffered push-pull and open-drain outputs. These solutions can eliminate the need for multiple ICs, which reduces board real estate and cost. Texas Instruments voltage translation products are compatible with 1.2V CMOS, 1.5V CMOS, 1.8V CMOS, 2.5V CMOS, 3.3V TTL, 3.3V CMOS, 5V CMOS, and 5V TTL.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:
    German Auto Firms Face Roadblock In Testing Driverless Car Software

    As nations compete to build the first operational autonomous car, German auto-manufacturers fear that current domestic laws limit their efforts to test the appropriate software for self-driving vehicles on public roads. German carmakers are concerned that these roadblocks are allowing U.S. competitors, such as Google, to race ahead in their development of software designed to react effectively when placed in real-life traffic scenarios. Car software developers are particularly struggling to deal with the ethical challenges often raised on the road.

    German auto firms face roadblock in testing driverless car software

    Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have all revealed prototype driverless vehicles which can be tested on German roads – however currently they are not legally allowed to test the cars with a distracted driver, i.e. emailing or texting in a moving car on public roads.

    “How much warning does a driver need to take back control of a vehicle after they were e-mailing? Is five seconds enough, or do they need 20? These are just some of the issues that need to be resolved,” explained Daimler spokesperson Katharina Becker.

    Car software developers are also struggling to deal with the ethical challenges often raised on the road. For example when faced with the decision to crash into a pedestrian or another vehicle carrying a family, it would be a challenge for a self-driving car to follow the same moral reasoning a human would in the situation.

    “Technologically we can do fully automated self-driving, but the ethical framework is missing,” said Winterkorn.


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