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:
    Driving Display Startup Navdy Raises $20M to Start Commercial Production

    Seeking to end the dangerous juggle many smartphone-wielding drivers do when navigating, reading email, texting and calling contacts, Navdy Inc. created a gadget that projects information from smartphones onto car windshields.

    The startup, which quickly gained traction last year from investors and early adopters preordering its $299 gadget, has now closed a $20 million funding round. The infusion will be used to hire more engineers and move beyond the first production run and begin commercial manufacturing of the 5 inch-by-4 inch projectors later this year.

    “If you look down for four seconds while going 60 miles per hour, you’ve just driven a football field blind. I’ve had those same moments during stop-and-go traffic as well,” said Navdy Founder and CEO Doug Simpson of the impetus for founding the startup in 2012.

    Mr. Simpson said he wasn’t looking to raise a round just yet. He had closed a $6.5 million seed round in August last year along with $6 million in preorders for some 17,000 of the devices.

    Navdy is the latest in growing class of hardware startup to pique investor interest.

    Navdy’s service allows users to control apps with voice commands, similar to the way GoogleNow and Siri operate. Navdy also has a camera that recognizes gesture controls, so users can do things like swipe left to answer a call or swipe right to dismiss a notification.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Electric cars won’t spread even with rapid chargers: Toyota engineer

    YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – Battery-powered electric vehicles don’t have a practical future as a long-range alternative to conventional cars even if technological breakthroughs allow them to be charged quickly, a top engineer at Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday.

    Electric vehicle (EV) supporters have touted developing high-speed charging technology as the way forward for cars like Nissan Motor Co’s Leaf. But Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell car Mirai, said that would guzzle so much energy at once as to defeat the purpose of the EV as an ecologically sound form of transportation.

    “If you were to charge a car in 12 minutes for a range of 500 km (310 miles), for example, you’re probably using up electricity required to power 1,000 houses,”

    “That totally goes against the need to stabilize electricity use on the grid.”

    “Toyota isn’t denying the benefits of EVs,” Tanaka said. “But we think the best way to use them is to charge them at night (to avoid peak power consumption hours), and use them for short distances during the day.”

    Instead, Toyota says hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) offer the most promising zero-emission alternative to conventional cars since they have a similar driving range and refueling time.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How Tesla Disrupts Infotainment Supply Chain

    Automaker Tesla moves away from Tier-One designers on infotainment and does its own design work.

    Instead of relying on traditional tier-1 suppliers to design and make the Model S’ infotainment system, Tesla did much of the design work itself while outsourcing the production to contract manufacturing firms.

    A $69,900 plus price tag is a lot to pay for a car, but Tesla tries to give a lot in return.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Automotive Chip Reliability: A Matter of Design Methods

    Up to 90% of all innovations today are generated through novel applications of semiconductors and electronic circuits. In the project Resilient Integrated Systems (RESIST), ten partners jointly strengthen the role of nanoelectronic components as the key to future developments. The research focuses on design processes for microchips and next-gen systems that will meet even higher requirements in terms of quality and reliability.

    The goal of the RESIST activities is designing particularly reliable high-performance components that at the same time contribute to one of the automotive industry’s overarching aims: Reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emission.

    To meet customer expectations and legislative specifications, future vehicle generations and their electronic components will have to exhibit extremely high resilience and reliability; at the same time their physical dimensions need to be reduced to enable design engineers to implement more functions and new applications. This expectations translates into the requirement of higher performance at lower power consumption.

    For these reasons, the RESIST partners will research how such high-performance microelectronic and nanoelectronics components can be designed to achieve maximum robustness and reliability.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Mini’s Working on Augmented Reality Driving Goggles

    Steampunk enthusiasts and Morgan owners aside, driving goggles are a thing of the past, rendered obsolete by the advent of the windshield. Yet Mini sees a bright future in which we all wear goggles … as head-up displays.

    The once-British brand, now owned by BMW, says its customers value style and performance above all, which makes us wonder if it really thinks people will embrace augmented reality goggles. Nevertheless, Mini believes such eyewear is the best way of populating the driver’s field of vision with helpful information.

    And here’s the thing: It actually works pretty well.

    The latest Mini hardtop comes with camera-based active safety features like pedestrian detection and collision avoidance (automatically applying the brakes if necessary). It’s also got a head-up display that projects information like speed and navigation directions onto the windshield. HUDs are a common and popular feature on luxury cars these days, one Mini wants to take off the windshield and put right in front of its customers’ eyeballs.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Keeping Your Car Safe From Electronic Thieves

    Let me explain: In recent months, there has been a slew of mysterious car break-ins in my Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. What’s odd is that there have been no signs of forced entry. There are no pools of broken glass on the pavement and no scratches on the doors from jimmied locks.

    But these break-ins seem to happen only to cars that use remote keyless systems, which replace traditional keys with wireless fobs.

    I watched as the girl, who was dressed in a baggy T-shirt and jeans, hopped off her bike and pulled out a small black device from her backpack. She then reached down, opened the door and climbed into my car.

    When the police arrived, they didn’t have much of an answer.

    I called Toyota, but they didn’t know, either (or at least the public relations employee didn’t know).

    The Toronto Police Service issued a news release last Thursday warning that thieves “may have access to electronic devices which can compromise” a vehicle’s security system. But the police did not specify what that “device” actually was.

    Thieves have been breaking into and stealing cars with the help of electronic gadgets for several years now. Jalopnik, the car blog, has written about a “secret device”used to unlock cars. And dozens of other websites have told stories about burglars hacking into cars.

    A more likely answer came from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a trade group for auto insurers and lenders, which issued a warning last month about a “mystery device” that can emulate a key. In one YouTube video, the group compiled surveillance footage that showed thieves using the gadget to open doors with ease.

    When I told him my story, he knew immediately what had happened. The teenagers, he said, likely got into the car using a relatively simple and inexpensive device called a “power amplifier.”

    What’s The Secret Device Thieves In California Are Using To Break Into Cars?

    Back before the sophisticated car security systems, the “devices” often used to steal cars had the incredible hidden abilities to also hang clothes safely off the floor or drive nails into innocent sheets of plywood. Modern car thieves have been spotted new generation of devices that seem to be able to unlock many cars instantly by simply being held against the vehicle.

    Based on what’s happening, I think we can do some speculating. I think it’s safe to say the device is an RF transmitter operating in the 300-400 Mhz range, and using a brute-force method to send the remote-entry codes to the car. I’m guessing the reason for the direct contact with the car is because the device has a very low-power transmitter

    Got a BMW? Thicko thieves can EASILY NICK IT with $30 box
    Your flash motor – gone in 180 seconds

    BMWs and other high-end cars are being stolen by unskilled criminals using a $30 tool developed by hackers to pwn the onboard security systems. The new tool is capable of reprogramming a blank key, and allows non-techie car thieves to steal a vehicle within two or three minutes or less.

    On-board diagnostics (OBD) bypass tools are being shipped from China and Eastern Europe in kit form with instructions and blank keys

    Would-be car thieves need to grab the transmission between a valid key fob and a car before reprogramming a blank key, which can then be used to either open the car or start it, via the OBD system.

    “Crooks only need to monitor a person using the key or interrogate the key fob to get enough information to decipher the key,”

    Weak cryptography combined with a security-through-obscurity approach in the OBD specification allows the tactic to succeed.

    The German car giant added that the issue was not limited to BMW, and promised to help mitigate the attack, in a statement published last Wednesday.

    BMW prides itself on its vehicle security systems and all BMWs meet all UK and global security standards. Our engineers and technicians review all aspects of our vehicles constantly, including security systems.

    Fraud Files: The Mystery Device

    It’s a growing trend lately and it has many law enforcement agencies scratching their heads. Thieves are using high-tech electronic devices to break through the keyless-entry systems that lock up modern cars.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ashlee Vance / Bloomberg Business:
    Elon Musk had a deal to sell Tesla to Google in 2013, for about $6B, and another $5B in capital for factory expansions — Elon Musk Had a Deal to Sell Tesla to Google in 2013 — On the verge of bankruptcy, the company sought a savior in Larry Pag

    Elon Musk Had a Deal to Sell Tesla to Google in 2013
    On the verge of bankruptcy, the company sought a savior in Larry Page

    This story is excerpted and adapted from Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, due out May 19 from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.

    On May 8, 2013, Tesla Motors shocked just about everyone by posting its first-ever quarterly profit, reporting higher-than-expected demand for its Model S electric sedan. That moment marked the beginning of a turnaround for Elon Musk’s tumultuous automaker. The next year would see the Model S win most of the automotive industry’s major awards and Tesla’s share price rise roughly fivefold, to more than $200. The 2013 profit announcement was fortuitous. Just weeks before, Tesla had been on the verge of bankruptcy.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Megan Geuss / Ars Technica:
    Hands-on with Mini Augmented Vision, BMW’s augmented reality glasses prototype for Mini cars — Mini Augmented Vision is a cool concept trying to solve Google Glass failings — Hands-on: BMW and Qualcomm make a convincing case cars are the best place to start AR.

    Mini Augmented Vision is a cool concept trying to solve Google Glass failings
    Hands-on: BMW and Qualcomm make a convincing case cars are the best place to start AR.

    The first iteration of Google Glass was a valuable experiment. It started out as a neat concept that enjoyed a lot of hype, but it exposed a lot of problems that practical augmented reality still faces—battery life, processing power, not to mention the huge social implications of carrying a camera on your face in public. But BMW Group and Qualcomm think they have an answer to those problems, and the answer involves making the use case for augmented reality a little more narrow.

    Enter Mini Augmented Vision. The system is a pair of glasses that integrate with BMW Group’s Mini cars to project helpful information in a low-impact way over the wearer’s immediate field of vision. Rather than try to be everything a smartphone is—but for your face—Augmented Vision is simply “the next iteration of the head-up display,” a representative from Mini told Ars. The Research and Technology branch of BMW Group has been working for years on ways to improve heads-up displays, which were born from airplane technology, giving fighter pilots critical information without them having to look down at their instruments (and away from the sky).

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    MINI Giving Drivers a Peek at ‘Augmented Reality’
    Drivers are to wear AR glasses — for safety

    Although most drivers have yet to embrace the idea of head-up displays (HUDs) on windshields, MINI is leapfrogging to the next phase of futuristic motoring, with its unveiling this week of augmented reality (AR) eyewear — powered by Qualcomm.

    MINI is offering live demonstrations of its prototype technology both at the Auto Shanghai Show and in San Francisco.

    MINI is seeking to fuse HUD and AR directly onto the drivers’ vision through AR glasses.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

    Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    Automakers to gearheads: Stop repairing cars
    Car Companies Say Home Repairs Are ‘Legally Problematic,’ Seek Copyright Restrictions

    Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

    In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle.

    Allowing them to continue to fix their cars has become “legally problematic,” according to a written statement from the Auto Alliance, the main lobbying arm of automakers.

    Every three years, the office holds hearings on whether certain activities should be exempt from the DMCA’s section 1201, which governs technological measures that protect copyrighted work. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for individual rights in the digital world, has asked the office to ensure that enthusiasts can continue working on cars by providing exemptions that would give them the right to access necessary car components.

    Complex Software, Increased Risk

    Industry concerns are mounting that modifying these ECUs and the software coding that runs them could lead to vulnerabilities in vehicle safety and cyber security. Imagine an amateur makes a coding mistake that causes brakes to fail and a car crash ensues. Furthermore, automakers say these modifications could render cars non-compliant with environmental laws that regulate emissions.

    But exemptions from the DMCA don’t give third parties the right to infringe upon existing copyrights. Nor does an exemption mean consumers don’t have to abide by other laws and rules that govern vehicles passed by the National Highway Traffic Administration, Environmental Protection Agency or U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

    “It’s not a new thing to be able to repair and modify cars,” said Kit Walsh, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s actually a new thing to keep people from doing it. There are these specialized agencies that govern what vehicles can lawfully be used for on the road, and they have not seen fit to stop them from repairing cars.”

    Aftermarket suppliers and home enthusiasts have been modifying ECUs for years without dire consequences. By tweaking the ECU codes, a process sometimes known as “chipping,” they’ve boosted horsepower, improved fuel efficiency, established performance limits for teen drivers and enhanced countless other features. These innovations have contributed to a “decades-old tradition of mechanical curiosity and self-reliance,” according to the EFF.

    GM: Telematics Industry Threatened

    For their part, manufacturers say they’re more concerned about potential losses than new revenue streams. Tinkering with the ECUs can void a car owner’s warranty, but automakers remain concerned with their liability if third parties make changes that could result in physical or financial harm. They noted unsavory mechanics could easily manipulate odometers, and make cars appear to have fewer miles on them than they actually do, a problem for unsuspecting used-car buyers.

    Automakers: We Know Our Cars Better

    Manufacturers and their lobbyists have submitted comments on six of the 27 proposals. The specific topics cover: unlocking mobile connectivity devices, unlocking consumer machines, jailbreaking all-purpose mobile computing devices, vehicle software diagnosis repair and modification, and software security and safety research.


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